Jim Ferguson

Not Just Another Pretty Bass

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Gerry Mulligan once said "cute and jazz don't mix, " but Nashville-based bassist/vocalist Jim Ferguson is making a good go of it. Decidedly not like Slam Stewart but hinting slightly at David Frishberg kitsch or Mose Allison bluesiness, Ferguson goes for the heart via mostly love songs with a unique voice that is hard to compare to any others, save for a few lounge singers. His consistent mid-range croon and occasional slight vibrato might suggest Johnny Mathis, if anyone. He's also a fine bassist, acknowledging the influence of Red Mitchell. The majority of the disc has him patiently, clearly enunciating balladic themes of longing like "Blame It on My Youth," "South to a Warmer Place," "The Real Thing," and the midnight blue "Lazy Afternoon." "Early Autumn" is done bossa nova style, "While We're Young" and "Charade" are waltzes, the latter a nice arrangement, and "I Get Along Without You Very Well" quite tearful. The title track is a little more progressive and atypical, an upbeat number with ostinato phrases that are a diving board for Ferguson's animated lyrics and an opportunity for the band to trade fours. Mose Allison's "Swingin' Machine" also allows us to hear another less serious, matter of fact side. The contributions of tenor saxophonist Chris Potter throughout must be mentioned. He adds a winsome, willowy gingersnap flavor on his fills and solos. This CD will appeal to a specific audience, perhaps a less jazz oriented one, but nonetheless covers a niche in the singer/bassist subgenre, of which no others except the immortal Slam Stewart (and his style was quite apart from Ferguson's, more scattable and in unison with his bass) have attempted.

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