The question, "Is jazz serious?" elicited a spirited response from Maynard Ferguson several days ago. "Number one, it's a funny word -- why should we be serious about something that's so joyful? Jazz is such an adventure that it has to have that looseness, that joyful feeling, which is very appealing to young and old alike.

"Somebody once asked me if I had stayed in classical music when I was young and had made it my forte, would I not have become one of the world's greatest classical trumpet players," recalls the Canadian-born band leader, laughing, "And I said, 'Even if I had, I'd still not have been serious.' "

One of the great high-note artists, Ferguson attributes that skill, in part, to his practice of Hatha yoga, especially the breathing exercises. "I think it gets down to just staying in shape," he says. "So I also do an awful lot of swimming."

How does he manage to get enough sleep traveling on a bus for months on end? "I was born to sleep on a bus," says Ferguson, "and they make jokes about me, how when I go into a motel the bed should shake a little bit."