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January/February 2000

Jim Ferguson
Not Just Another Pretty Bass
A Records

A pretty bass, a pretty face, and a pretty voice would not be used to describe bassists Slam Stewart with his one-octave-above vocalizing, or Major Holley with his deep growls, or even Jay Leonhart delighting with his witty tunes. But some guys just have it all and Jim Ferguson brings a total package to this debut recording. He's an accomplished, trained vocalist as well as a skilled bassist.

His bass is tuneful and rich sounding. With a hard swinging band, Ferguson shows his stuff, laying down clean lines and vibrant solos, although this recording, of mostly ballads played at varied tempos, showcases his singing more than his playing. He sings like an Irish tenor-high, light, but full-bodied; there's no Chet Baker wispiness. His title cut and Mose Allison's "Swingin' Machine" present Ferguson's playful side, but the rest of this disc has romance pressed into its non-existent grooves.

Pianist Pat Coil chooses his notes well in his lively solos and sensitive comping, while drummer Jim White keeps the band timely and on track. Tenorman Chris Potter steals the show, providing grit and guts, particularly on "Charade."

Originally published in January/February 2000
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