Jazz legend Maynard Ferguson plans to bring the Glenelg High jazz ensemble to new heights and new audiences.
Through a videotape Mr. Ferguson plans to make at the school Feb. 10 and distribute as an educational tool, Glenelg will be transformed into an international classroom for aspiring musicians.
"It'll be a once-in-a-lifetime experience" to get first-hand instruction from Mr. Ferguson, said Glenelg senior and ensemble member Chris Winters.
"It's a dream come true to be on a video with someone of Maynard's caliber," said Mr. Winters, a 17-year old alto saxophonist from Lisbon.
The 21-member ensemble will also be the opening act for Mr. Ferguson's Feb. 12 concert in the school's auditorium.
Some of the videotape from the workshop, along with footage of the concert, will be incorporated in a second production, a documentary on Mr. Ferguson that producers hope to get aired on public television.
Making the video in Glenelg was no accident, according to Ed Sargent, Mr. Ferguson's Memphis-based tour manager and co-producer of the videos.
"Probably one of the finest high school bands in the country is right there at Glenelg," he said. "Every time we would come there, Barry Enzman would always have a great band."
Performing on the same stage as a jazz legend is nothing new to these students.
They have played at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, both internationally acclaimed events.
Working with the jazz legend is both serious work and fun, Mr. Enzman said.
"We'll play down a chart and he'll offer suggestions. . . . I find he establishes a rapport right away.
"A lot of people figure it takes no discipline to play jazz, and that is dead wrong," said Mr. Enzman.
Likewise, he said, Mr. Ferguson is "very serious about his commitment to education, but he also likes to have fun."
Mr. Ferguson's musical education started early in his hometown of Montreal. By age 4 he was playing piano and violin, and in 1939, when he was 11, Mr. Ferguson performed his first solo with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. orchestra. By the time he was 14 he was leading his own band, which opened in Montreal for Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
His best-known work is probably from the 1950s, when his high trumpet blasts became a popular part of Stan Kenton group arrangements. Work on movie soundtracks followed, and his trumpet can be heard on such classics as "West Side Story" and "The Ten Commandments." In 1978, he had a Top-10 hit with "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from "Rocky."
"I was really flattered and honored that he chose Glenelg to do this," Mr. Enzman said.
"It's really wonderful for the community because he's known worldwide and he's coming to their back yard."
Glenelg Principal James McGregor agreed.
"It's also a tribute to Mr. Enzman and our music department," he said, "because a professional band of this caliber just doesn't go to a high school" without a compelling reason.
The 8 p.m. concert is likely to sell out, Mr. McGregor said.
For more information, call 410-313-5533.