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Conquistador (Maynard Ferguson album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MF Conquistador.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1977
RecordedOctober–December 1976
VenueMedia Sound, NYC
CBS Studios, San Francisco, CA
Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, CA
GenreJazz, jazz fusion, funk, big band
ProducerJay Chattaway
Maynard Ferguson chronology
Primal Scream
New Vintage
Singles from Conquistador

Conquistador is the ninth album by Canadian jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson on Columbia Records.[1] The album is notable for its inclusion of the hit single "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")".

Background and production

"Bob James produced it (Primal Scream) and made it with all the New York heavies (Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, et al). It did very well for a crossover album, but the guys on the band were a little upset about the fact that they weren't on it."

– Mark Colby describing the recording of Primal Scream and its aftermath.[2]

After the experience of creating Primal Scream without his touring band, Ferguson was determined to see them become an integral part of his next effort. While Bob James was firmly in control of the production, Ferguson was insistent that his band members would be a part of the proceedings. It became a bi-coastal effort, with the touring band recording in San Francisco between dates, and the James crew recording in New York. Two of the songs were recorded entirely in New York without any participation by Ferguson's band: the themes from Star Trek and Rocky.

"Gonna Fly Now"

"I knew it was going to be a hit. Sylvester Stallone was in the studio when we recorded it. If you listen very close to the original recording, you can hear in the mix the sound of him hitting the small bag."

—Maynard Ferguson describing Sylvester Stallone punching a speed bag to the rhythm of the song as it was recorded.[3]

While Ferguson was known to have an uncanny ability to change with the times, no one suspected that in the Spring of 1977, he would pull off the coup of his life. As AllMusic reviewer Richard Ginell put it: "Maynard was shrewd, and Maynard was quick, and he managed to beat almost everyone to the punch..."[4]

It had been decades since a big band recording had made the charts, but when he released his recording ahead of the soundtrack version, Ferguson scored the biggest hit of his long career. The recording had a 13-week run on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, eventually peaking at number 28 on June 25.[5] It's likely that Ferguson's recording paved the way for the success of the soundtrack version (Bill Conti's own recording would peak at number one the following week).[6] Gonna Fly Now is also unique in that it had recordings by four different artists charting at the same time (Ferguson, Conti, Rhythm Heritage and Current).

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[4]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings3/4 stars[7]

Conquistador was the most successful album of Ferguson's career, earning him his first and only gold record, and a Grammy nomination (Best Pop Instrumental Performance) for "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")".[8] Boosted by the popularity of the single, Conquistador not only went to number one on the Jazz charts, but it became the first big band album to appear on the pop charts in decades, sparking a revival of interest in big band music.

When Conquistador rose to number 22 on the pop album charts, noted Los Angeles Times music critic Leonard Feather noted "Conquistador earned Ferguson a unique place in the big band world: he alone was able to crack the pop charts."[9]


In 2003, Conquistador was reissued by Columbia/Legacy along with 1974's Chameleon, both with remastered sound and new essays.[2]


Maynard Ferguson's arrangement of "Gonna Fly Now" was used for the opening of the Toronto newscast CityPulse from the early 1980s into the 1990s (with newer arrangements keeping the same melody used until the mid 2000s).

Maynard Ferguson's arrangement of "Theme from Star Trek" was used as the opening for The Larry King Show talk radio program on the Mutual Radio Network, focusing on the recording improvisations rather than the main melody, although the piece in full could be heard on occasion at the close of his program. Jay Chattaway, who produced the album and worked on most of the arrangements on the album, would go on to compose music scores for Star Trek: The Next Generation and its respected spinoffs; Deep Space Nine and Voyager, along with the prequel Enterprise.

Track listing

All songs arranged and conducted by Jay Chattaway except Soar Like an Eagle by Bob James. All trumpet solos by Maynard Ferguson except where noted.

Side one
1."Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")" (Guitar solo – Jeff Layton)Bill Conti, Carol Connors, Ayn Robbins4:22
2."Mister Mellow" (Guitar solo – George Benson)Jay Chattaway, Maynard Ferguson6:27
3."Theme from Star Trek" (Flute solo – Bobby Militello)Alexander Courage, Gene Roddenberry6:17
Total length:17:06
Side two
1."Conquistador" (Tenor sax solo – Mark Colby
Trumpet calls – Stan Mark, Dennis Noday, Joe Mosello, Ron Tooley)
Chattaway, Ferguson7:34
2."Soar Like an Eagle" (Piano solo – Bob James
Tenor sax solo – Mark Colby)
Bob James6:33
3."The Fly" (Soprano sax solo – Mike Migliore)Chattaway, Ferguson4:30
Total length:18:37
  • Times shown are the correct original LP lengths.[a]


The MF Band

Guest musicians

Additional players




  1. ^ Times for virtually all tracks on vinyl are incorrect. Most errors involve times for side one tracks being displayed on side two, and vice versa.[10] Even singles used the erroneous times shown on the LPs.[11]
  2. ^ This misspelling of "Giuseppe" appears on all releases of this album, so it is included in this form here.[10]


  1. ^ Ferguson, Maynard (1977). Conquistador (album). Columbia. PC 34457.
  2. ^ a b Pratt, Dean (April 2003). Conquistador (Media notes). Columbia/Legacy. CK 63557.
  3. ^ "Jazz Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson Dies". Billboard. August 24, 2006. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Ginell, Richard S.. Conquistador at AllMusic
  5. ^ "The Hot 100". Billboard. June 25, 1977. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  6. ^ "The Hot 100". Billboard. July 2, 1977. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  7. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 483. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  8. ^ "Grammy Awards 1978". Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Maynard Ferguson – The Legend". Retrieved July 5, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Conquistador at Discogs (list of releases)
  11. ^ "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")" at Discogs (list of releases)
This page was last edited on 19 June 2021, at 23:31
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