Harry Ferguson

Biography by

When someone named Harry Ferguson blows hot air into a musical instrument the occasion is not always a tenor saxophone solo, despite the impression left by at least a couple of jazzmen in various eras.…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

When someone named Harry Ferguson blows hot air into a musical instrument the occasion is not always a tenor saxophone solo, despite the impression left by at least a couple of jazzmen in various eras. Down under in wombat world, the didgeridoo solos of Harry Ferguson have been recorded for inclusion on various collections of traditional Australian music. One of the earlier examples of his music was on a 1978 vinyl release entitled Aboriginal Sound Instruments, a detailed overview of some of the most absorbing ethnic music of all, at least from the point of view of the musical instruments themselves -- which in this case include boomerangs, seed pods, rasps, and logs.

The field recordings for this particular collection were done by Alice Moyle, who reportedly captured Ferguson on tape about a decade prior to the album's release. She came upon Ferguson in the locale of Delissaville, N.T., Australia. The didgeridoo man belonged to the Wogadj-Manda people and continued to be a factor in the performing lineup for Australian music collections. He was there, at least on tape, for the somewhat scholarly Aboriginal Music, released by the Auvidis label in 1992 in conjunction with various UNESCO recording archives. This organization secured rights to some of Moyle's material, or in other cases sent their own scouts out to record the same performers, provided they could be tracked down.

Just as the name of the label Naive can be interpreted as speaking for the entire recording industry, the French firm's ambitious 80-track Around the World in 80 Songs from 2000 tries to put the whole story of mankind's music in one box. Such a context, cheesy as it might be, at least sets up a flow in which the determinedly bizarre nature of performances such as Ferguson's really stands out. Culled from the same field recordings done in the late '60s, Ferguson's combination of singing and didgeridoo is preceded by the African "Rambala," then followed by a trip to Hong Kong and the song "Kao Shan Liu Shui," the title of which means "high mountain and running water," pretty different from the outback from the sound of it.