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Jim Ferguson

Jim Ferguson

Shortly after the release of Jim Ferguson’s solo CD debut, Not Just Another Pretty Bass, the singer-bassist received a mysterious e-mail from a Boston neurosurgeon inquiring whether there were any left-handed persons in his family. Ferguson replied that his father, a drummer and music educator, was a lefty. “I knew it,” the doctor responded, delighted by confirmation of his long-held theory that lefthanders are gifted with a predisposition to do two things at once.

What’s remarkable about Ferguson isn’t that he simultaneously sings and plays bass, but that he does both so well. He’s not jazz’s first singing bassist. Slam Stewart and Major Holley hummed along with their plucked and bowed improvisations; Bob Flanigan and Ken Albers of the Four Freshmen accompanied the group’s vocal harmonies; and the late Red Mitchell and, currently, Jay Leonhart use their idiosyncratic voices as vehicles to present their own wry, often philosophical compositions. But Ferguson is equally accomplished as a straightahead jazz bassist and a smooth, supple tenor with a style reminiscent of, but far more expressive than, Chet Baker’s youthful cool-school vocalizing.

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