In the foggy realms of obscurity it may not be possible to slip further out of sight than to be a jazz musician whose reputation was either never made or has slipped away. When the talented bassist Ernie Furtado is described as "utterly and unjustly obscure" by one jazz critic, one can assume this means that even jazz fans may not have heard of him, which is often the case. One of his most famous associations was with the lyrical and subtle pianist Bill Evans, whose taste in bassists was impeccable. Even in this department Furtado remains obscure, overshadowed by later Evans bass collaborators such as Scott LaFaro or Eddie Gomez.
Fans of jazz guitar may have a copy of Tapestry by Chuck Wayne; if they can find one, that is. This classic recording is not only a brilliant album of jazz guitar, it contains much fine bass work from Furtado. But this is just one of many recordings the bassist made that has slipped out of circulation and public attention, whether the status is deserved or not. He appears on several recordings by vocalist Morgana King, one of which could be used to explain the meaning of the word "dated." Folk a la King was recorded in the late '50s as the folk revival era was gathering steam, and survives as an interesting attempt to blend folk and jazz in a trio setting, the singer backed only by Furtado's bass and Wayne's guitar. Yet even the once popular chicken dish that the album was named after has been largely forgotten (chicken à la king, for those not in the loop). One of the bassist's most interesting live performances was as a member of the original cast of Lenny, the play based on the life and tribulations of hipster comedian Lenny Bruce. The comedian kept frequent company with jazz musicians, not caring if they were obscure or not, so it is no great surprise that Furtado appeared as a jazz bassist. But Furtado also played other small parts as a reporter and cop, part of the play's concept being to have castmembers play several roles each.