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Maynard Ferguson: Chameleon/Conquistador/Hot

Album Notes

BGO's 2015 double-disc set pairs three mid- to late-'70s albums Maynard Ferguson recorded for Columbia: 1974's Chameleon, 1977's Conquistador, and 1979's Hot. Each of these records -- which were not released sequentially -- finds Ferguson gliding down the satiny middle of the road. Chameleon contains a bit of variety, toggling between adult contemporary ballads and a bit of cruise-ship funk (covers of "Livin' for the City," "Jet") but generally sticking with slick crossover jazz. By the time of Conquistador, he'd gone full-on disco, a sensibility that continues through Hot -- a record that not only sounds the same (even with a splashy cover of Coltrane's "Naima") but contains a remake of his disco spin on "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)" (cleverly called "Rocky II Disco") and a recycling of his "Theme from Star Trek." None of these records may be among Ferguson's peak, but their excesses are unique to the '70s and are interesting for that reason. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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