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Not Just Another Pretty Bass
     

Not Just Another Pretty Bass

by Jim Ferguson
 
In jazz, singing bassists are as rare as dancing saxophonists. Scarcer still are singing bassists who have more than serviceable voices. Enter the surprising Jim Ferguson, a thoroughly swinging bassist and strikingly affecting vocalist. His able instrumental work is apparent throughout this collection of familiar standards - - "Blame It on My Youth," "I Get Along

Overview

In jazz, singing bassists are as rare as dancing saxophonists. Scarcer still are singing bassists who have more than serviceable voices. Enter the surprising Jim Ferguson, a thoroughly swinging bassist and strikingly affecting vocalist. His able instrumental work is apparent throughout this collection of familiar standards - - "Blame It on My Youth," "I Get Along Without you Very Well," "While We're Young" - - and well-chosen offbeat tunes - - "Swingin' Machine," "The Real Thing," "Early Autumn" - - but it's Ferguson's sure singing that catches you most off guard. It takes real smarts to aim for understatement rather than more blatant vocal gestures, and Ferguson proves himself a wise man throughout. By underplaying his delivery on wistful songs like "Autumn Serenade" and "Lazy Afternoon," Ferguson finds his way to each tune's core. He's also got a healthy sense of humor, exhibited here on the bouncing title track, and a rhythmic ease that animates his terrific take on Henry Mancini's "Charade." Ferguson isn't the only impressive player on PRETTY BASS; tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, one of the promising younger players on today's jazz scene, has never sounded more assured.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael G. Nastos
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.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/01/1999
Label:
Challenge
UPC:
0608917316025
catalogNumber:
73160

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