Thursday, August 24, 2006

Remembering Maynard Ferguson

Today in my van I listened to the European cd release of Maynard Ferguson's MF Horn II. As an lp vinyl recording, it was the first Maynard album I owned. I have loved this record since my high school days and had been anxiously waiting for the cd to become available. A couple of weeks ago it was released in Europe and became available through Amazon-UK. As I listened to "Give It One", the first cut on the disc, it made me think of the time I first played the vinyl record on my Panasonic turntable in the mid 70's. I remember how those screaming high notes blew me away! I was very familiar with his music because, as a high school student attending the Kentucky Summer Wind Ensemble each year, fellow student Charlie Khan brought his stereo to the UK dorm room along with some Maynard albums. Many of us would gather each night in Charlie's dorm room to listen to Maynard, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Charles Mingus records.

I reached my destination and got out of my van as my cell phone rang. I saw my friend Chris Conway's name pop up on the caller id. Chris is also a huge MF fan and was calling to tell me that Maynard had just passed away. I felt sick. I've had that same terrible feeling before. I remember how I felt when I heard that Woody Herman had died. It was the same feeling I had when Rahsaan Roland Kirk passed away. That feeling also occurred when I learned of the deaths of Chicago guitarist Terry Kath, Count Basie, John Lennon, and Bill Chase. I hate that empty feeling.

Maynard brought me much enjoyment. I not only have collected and enjoyed all of his recordings, but have attended many of his concerts. After each concert I would hang around to meet him and obtain autographs and take photos. He was always accomodating and was a genuinely nice guy.

Trying to remember all the occasions I've heard him, I vividly remember concerts at Scott High School in northern Kentucky, two at Bogart's in Cincy, Scott County High School, Kool Jazz Festival in Cincy, McCreary County High School, a couple of times at Breedings in Lexington, and a Cincinnati High School. The first time I heard him live was at Bogart's in Cincinnati. I rode with trumpet great Vince Dimartino. The things I remember most about that trip was how fast Vince drove (dude scared me to death as he hurriedly weaved through traffic while listening to a cranked up Doc Severinsen tape). Maynard and the band were incredible...even more exciting than what I had anticipated. Another memorable trip was to Scott County High School to hear him. This was at the time "Rocky" was hot. Kim Harrod, my brother Johnny and I went to that concert. Afterwards we went out to the band bus to wait to talk to Maynard. The bus door was open, so I peeked in saying "Anybody home, anybody home?" Maynard was sitting at the back of the bus and invited us on. We all loved the opportunity of getting autographs and talking with the trumpet legend. Another fun concert was when my friend Chuck Buechel went with me to a Scott High School where we met Kim Harrod and Jennifer Harrod. Jennifer was pregnant with Reida and said that the baby enjoyed the concert from the womb. After the concert we all met Maynard on his band bus for more autographs and photos. Local trumpet standout Robert Moser was at the band bus to meet Maynard too. I took my trumpet playing niece Elizabeth to hear him last year and she loved getting her picture made standing next to him. Melody went with me a couple of years ago to hear him at McCreary County High School. Kim and Jennifer Harrod were at that concert too. Once again, Maynard took time after the concert to talk with us, pose for photos, and sign cd covers.

One of the most treasured Maynard keepsakes I own is a fantastic photo that I took of him in the early 80's in concert at Breedings, a Lexington nightclub. I brought that photo with me to a later concert and had him sign it for me. He commented on how much he liked the photo and even called to one of his trumpet players to look at the photo. Laughing, Maynard said "See, I wasn't always fat!" I have the autographed 11 x 14 photo framed and prominently hanging in my music studio. Another of my favorites is the signed 10 cd Mosaic box set "The Complete Roulette Recordings".

After learning of his death from Chris' call, I called Kim to let him know. Kim said "if I have a hero, I guess it would have to be him." Maynard affected many people this way. We will all miss him. It's now past midnight, but I'm still going to take a drive in my van down the bypass and listen to the rest of MF Horn II on compact disc.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Woody Herman Reissue

I am very excited that Wounded Bird Records released Woody Herman's "My Kind Of Broadway" on compact disc this week. It is one of my favorite big band albums and I have been waiting since the invention of the compact disc player for it to be released on cd.

The vinyl recording was originally released in 1964 and features one of Woody's best bands. The legendary Bill Chase was in this incredible group. The arrangements of broadway classics from West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, My Fair Lady, The King & I, The Sound of Music and others are truly great.

I've sent in my order and will be anxiously checking my mailbox each day for the package to arrive. Way to go Wounded Bird Records!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Air Show & Other Fun

As always, the Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County Air Show was great. The cloud cover made for a very comfortable day. Michelle enjoyed checking out the inside of the planes, listening to Kyle and me play music, and watching the skydivers and stunt planes.

After the festivities, we stopped at Hall's On The River. Michelle loved the fresh catfish and I enjoyed the Kentucky Hot Brown. The Kentucky Hot Brown was described in the menu as "so much here that we can't remember the last time anyone could finish it." I intentionally left a bite on my plate so I wouldn't be remembered as the guy who finished it with no problem.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mt. Sterling Air Show This Sunday

If you've never been to an Air Show, I can tell you that it can be a lot of fun and educational as well. Vocalist Kyle Toombs and I played at the Mt. Sterling Air Show in 2004 and in 2005 and are looking forward to returning this Sunday.

From their advertising brochure: Fly-In Breakfast starts at around 0700, Air Show starts at around 1400. There will be lots of static displays, vendor booths, live music, concessions, rock climbing wall, human gyro, plane rides (for those non-pilots that attend), and family fun for all! This event gets a little bigger each year, so don't miss out on Air Show 2006!

Kyle and I hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Carson's Tendon Donor

I found this Cincinnati Enquirer article very interesting:

Bengals QB received tendon from victim of drunken driver

Julie De Rossi spent the last night of her life passing out fliers for bands she was managing. As she drove home on a Houston freeway, a BMW traveling at twice the speed limit slammed her from behind.

The collision hurtled De Rossi's Volvo into a concrete barrier, crunching the car like an accordion and leaving the 44-year-old mother with only a faint pulse. She died later that day, the victim of a drunken driver.

De Rossi didn't become a meaningless traffic statistic in the early hours of March 17, 2004. An organ donor, she has since helped mend more than 50 people, including Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, 26, the National Football League's top-paid player.

The knee that Palmer heard snapping apart after a crushing hit during January's playoff game is now held together by Julie De Rossi's Achilles' tendon.

"It's amazing to think that somebody else is inside me," Palmer says.

"You look at the scar. You stare at it. You rub it. It's given me a second chance at life. And I'm extremely grateful to this person."

Palmer is banking on a full knee recovery with tissue from the heel of a free-spirited Texas adoptee. De Rossi stood 11 inches shorter and was 90 pounds lighter than Palmer's 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound frame.

His comeback rests partly on the generosity of an adventurous woman who was married four times, had one son and pursued careers in drag racing, interior design and music.

"She just went all out at everything she ever did in life," Dorothy Hyde, De Rossi's mother, says. "It was all the way or nothing, and I admired that in her."


De Rossi's family agreed to tell Julie's story after Bloomberg News received clearance from Palmer, his doctor, a Houston organ procurement service and the New Jersey tissue bank where her donations were processed and given serial numbers.

Now, her story is also the story of Carson Palmer.

The Bengals made Heisman Trophy winner Palmer the No. 1 pick in the NFL's 2003 draft. Just 10 days before his knee gave way, the team signed him to a contract extension that could pay him as much as $118.8 million over the next nine seasons. He's slated to earn $21.8 million in 2006 alone, according to the NFL Players Association.

Palmer was hurt Jan. 8 as the Bengals faced Pittsburgh. Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen crashed into the quarterback's left knee. The hit tore Palmer's anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments - the ACL and MCL - and dislocated his kneecap.

"You hear those two pops, and you know what happened," Palmer says. "Pop, pop. And you know you're done. It's over. Emotionally, it was devastating."


For Julie De Rossi's family, more profound devastation hit in a series of early-morning phone calls. The BMW sport-utility vehicle, driven by Eric Hinton, propelled her car into a barrier on the Southwest Freeway, Houston police say.

They estimated Hinton's speed at 117 miles an hour. The posted limit was 60.

Hinton, then 31, wasn't hurt. His blood alcohol level of .234 was about three times the legal amount. He was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and is serving a five-year prison sentence, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Julie's son, Aaron Hehr, spoke to the neurosurgeon about 5 a.m.

"He said she didn't have any brain activity and that she wasn't going to make it," Hehr, 26, says. "I started saying my goodbyes."

Every time a person dies in the United States, the hospital is required by federal law to ask the family if it wants the organs, tissues or eyes donated.


In some states, signing up to be a donor on your driver's license is enough. In others, such as Texas, the family must consent. Julie had told her family years earlier that when she died, she wanted to be a donor.

"We figured that when someone dies, their spirit or soul or whatever is gone," Hyde, 76, says. "Why just discard the body to deteriorate when it can help someone else? It's what she wanted, and we didn't hesitate."

Twenty-two months after De Rossi's death, Palmer was in the offices of orthopedic surgeon Lonnie Paulos at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. To avoid a weak repair, Paulos, 59, decided on a common procedure: Use a donor Achilles' tendon instead of a donor ACL.

He says De Rossi's Achilles' tendon "is twice as strong as an ACL."

To break the tension of not knowing whether he'd ever play football again, Palmer cracked a joke.

"I said, 'Hey, Dr. Paulos, just make sure this was a guy who ran like a 4.4 40-yard dash, okay?'" Palmer remembers.

De Rossi's family chuckles at the notion. She was strong, they say, but not athletic.


Dorothy Hyde gave birth twice to babies who lived exactly three days before adopting Julie as an infant.

"She was a beautiful little girl, who had a mind of her own from the very beginning," says Hyde, whose late husband, Buddy, was an executive at Dresser Industries Inc.

Julie's desire to mark her own path became more evident as she got older. Sweet Sixteen would produce her first marriage. The union ended within a year. Three marriages later, the former Julie Hyde decided to create a new name for herself: De Rossi.

"She didn't care what anybody said or thought," Hyde says. "And I didn't think it was right to try and stop somebody from being themselves."

Julie's sister, Karen Abercrombie, 43, a corporate marketing consultant in Houston, remembers when the family vacationed in Germany and her then-16-year-old sister conspired with a bellhop to sneak out for a beer.

"She was always a risk taker," Karen says. "Afraid of nothing."


When her life was taken, De Rossi left behind much of value. More than 92,000 people in the U.S. are awaiting organ transplants, according to Richmond, Va.-based United Network for Organ Sharing. Viable transplants can include the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, ligaments, tendons and skin.

Edison, N.J.-based Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, the biggest U.S. tissue bank, eventually received De Rossi's donations for processing. As is customary, her tissue was returned to the part of the country where the donation took place. Her tendon was stored in a specialized freezer at the Baylor College of Medicine.

On Jan. 10, Palmer was in surgery at Baylor, and Paulos selected the tendon. He attached it to Palmer's knee joint using screws that will eventually dissolve.


The Bengals and Palmer say they hope he can start the new season. There are no guarantees.

"I'm not confident in my knee to, you know, hop over a fence or do anything too crazy," Palmer told journalists before a July 30 practice. "I'm confident in running with it, and planting and cutting.

"But as far as getting hit, having to run full speed and stopping in a small area, I'm not mentally ready for that. And I don't think my knee's ready for that."

Among Palmer's new fans is the family of Julie De Rossi. They're rooting for him to take the Bengals to the Super Bowl.

In time, Palmer's cells will grow in and around De Rossi's Achilles' tendon, genuinely making it part of his own body.

The family members say they hope he thinks of Julie De Rossi not as a piece of tissue but as the person she once was.

"This was not a cadaver who donated this," Dorothy Hyde says. "This was a human being, my daughter. A real, living person with history, who lived life on her own terms. Her name was Julie."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wiffle Ball

Wiffle Ball is the coolest game on the planet. I fondly remember all the great home run derby competitions we had in Bruce Smith's backyard when I was a kid. His yard made the best field because of the fence. He would mow the backyard in the shape of a baseball diamond and the fence was the perfect distance to challenge us to hit home runs. The left field fence was a further distance than right field one, so I learned to hammer my homers over the right field fence. When I connected, I knew I had gotten all of that bad boy when the ball not only cleared Bruce's fence, but when it made it over the Davis' swimming pool fence. A hit like that was worth two runs instead of just one.

Six of us went to the Reds game on Sunday, and we made sure to go up early enough to have a big wiffle ball game prior to watching the Reds. We parked on the Kentucky side of the river, cranked up the grill for some smokies and dogs, and broke out the wiffle balls and bat. Barry Warfield and his sons were worthy competition, but Matthew, Josh, and I were the superior team. I believe my power stroke, which I masterfully developed years ago in Bruce Smith's backyard, was clearly the difference in enabling us to bring home the victory.

Closer Matthew's slow curve fooled Denver for strike 3
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vocalist Lynn Roberts

I met the great vocalist Lynn Roberts at Caproni's last night. After her dinner, she joined me on the bandstand and sang "Over The Rainbow" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me". She is a tremendous talent!

Lynn has performed worldwide with great artists such as Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Doc Severinsen, Bucky Pizzarelli, Charlie Spivak, The Pied Pipers, and others. She has also worked on Broadway in the show "Ballroom". Her distinctive voice has been featured in many jingles from Chiquita Banana to Campbell's Soup. In addition to her great musical talent, Lynn is very beautiful and has a warm personality. She sure made my night when she complimented me on my sax playing.

She treated me to a copy of her wonderful "The Men In My Life" cd. If you enjoy great jazz vocalists who swing and can smoke a ballad too, I can recommend this set. Listening to her music made me wish that my drive home took longer so I could hear more!