Jazz Inside-10/14 Tim Ferguson HOLD THAT THOUGHT!- TimFergusonMusic.com. Silence; Only A Dream; A Drink And A Cigarette; Trumpet Bass Segue; One For Mal; Un Bel Lago; If You Call Me, Then I’ll Call You; Hold That Thought; You PERSONNEL: Tim Ferguson, bass; Rob Henke, trumpet, alto horn; Diane Moser, piano By Scott Yanow On first glance, a jazz group consisting of trumpet, piano and bass may seem a bit incom- plete. However Hold That Thought! by Tim Ferguson’s Inside/Out is one of the finest jazz recordings to be released this year, and a delight throughout. Because of the three musicians’ ability to follow each other spontaneously and their skill at making up melodies as they go along, it succeeds at Ferguson’s goal of making it difficult (without reading his liner notes) to know which pieces are freely improvised and which are arranged. Bassist Tim Ferguson has a long resume of associations with artists based in New York including the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Cecil Bridgewater, Vanessa Rubin, Valery Ponomarev and Don Friedman, in addition to the co-op trio Stevens, Siegel and Ferguson. Trumpeter Rob Henke (who also plays alto horn) has also been in New York during the past 25 years and, while many of his associations have been with lesser known names (Mina Agossi, Rolf Sturm, the great singer Nanette Natal, Mike Kaplan, the Micro-East Collective and Doctor Nerve), he has developed his own mellow and brittle sound which at times is a little reminiscent of Chet Baker. Diane Moser is a subtle pianist who is equally skilled as a soloist and an accompanist. She leads the Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band, has her own trio and quintet, and has worked with such artists as Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Helias, Gerry Hemingway, How- ard Johnson, Oliver Lake, Tina Marsh, and Charles McPherson. Inside/Out came together originally as a fun way for the trio to jam and try out new songs. Originally they had thoughts of expanding the group, but the sound of the unit was so appealing (as was the opportunity to utilize space) that they decided against it. In 2010 they performed a concert and then recorded this CD, playing in the studio as if they were at a live performance. Hold That Thought! should have been re- leased several years ago but it has not aged or become dated in the slightest. The selections are performed continuously, with one piece or idea flowing into the next. The set begins with a beautiful version of Charlie Haden’s “Silence” (one of his best originals) which includes some heartbreaking trumpet. “Only A Dream” was freely improvised but sure does not sound like it. It swings, develops through several moods and patterns, and stays intriguing throughout. It is followed by “A Drink And A Cigarette,” a Rob Henke composition that is a jazz waltz. The spontaneous “Trumpet Bass Segue” Is followed by Diane Moser’s “One For Mal” which brings back the style and spirit of Mal Waldron a bit.” Tim Ferguson’s “Un Bel Lago” has the composer in the forefront much of the time, whether bowing or setting the atmosphere during the moody ballad. “If You Call Me, Then I’ll Call You” sounds freely improvised but is actually a Moser freebop composition. “Hold That Thought” is the opposite, a free improvisa- tion that is lyrical, melodic and logical. The pro- gram concludes with “You,’ a cheerful and swinging Mal Waldron song. Hold That Thought! is both adventurous and accessible, subtle and unpredictable. Get it with- out hesitation.” - Scott Yanow

— JazzInside Magazine

CD Review: http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p10001.htm by Mark S. Tucker Hold That Thought! With all the outrageously righteous straight ahead, Brasiliana, and outside jazz I've been sent over the last year, I'd lost sight of the contemplative side of things until laying an ear to Tim Ferguson and Inside/Out's Hold That Thought! wherein the opening cut is gorgeously Kenny Wheeleresque, trumpet / alto horn player Rob Henke as doleful as the Northern skies, as moody as a winter storm's aftermaths. Diane Moser sets the opening perfectly in a highly restrained piano intro that continues throughout the entirety of the cut. Then Ferguson cuts in with his contrabass, limning the ground and sidewalls. The track is Charlie Haden's Silence and it's very aptly named. Only a Dream, the second outing, picks up the pace, more fully displaying Moser's pointillist explications. Her style is distinctively choppy but never wanting, perfectly attuned to what's sometimes written and other times the completely spontaneous nature of the trio's work but also quite idiosyncratic. I haven't heard quite this style for a long time, forgetting how much I missed it and how rare it is. Richie Beirach could catch on it, as can Jarrett when he's extrapolating (A Drink and a Cigarette sounds as though it might be parts left out of The Koln Concerts), but as a dominant métier? Not easy to find, and she really goes to town on One for Mal, of course dedicated to Mal Waldron. The music isn't as meandering as it first seems to be—though even that is a quality I'd never harsh anyone's gig on when delivered with such integrity—but rather a form of elongated narrative with authorially punctuated side observances. With Henke and Moser continually in the foreground, Freguson is the sole rhythm section, though Diane occupies a mid-ground when Henke's conversational lines are featured. Ferguson notes that this is not a disc for everyone, and he's quite right, but it should be VERY palatable to those who know what the term 'jazz' really means—that is, beyond Kenny G, Yanni, and other lobotomy cases. In many ways, the 9-spot here is notably European, headier and richer than what's normally encountered between Maine and California, the result of minds never settling for the easy out, the cliché, the banal. This isn't just jazz, it isn't just music, it's art, it crosses borders with the visual side of the house because there are so many large, open, airy spaces. The players wield their instruments as though a set of inks, temperas, oils, brushes, lino blocks, in order to create sketches that expand in the mind. I have only one criticism: Ferguson needs a more up-front soundfield designation, as his lines are not only akin to his icon's, Haden, but also to Gary Peacock and require a co-equal presence, especially in this mode. Not that I'm complaining, y'unnerstan', but such documentation would shift the dynamic even more strongly. Track List: Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)” - Mark S. Tucker


Some may be most attracted to this CD by the presence of consummate saxophonist Joel Frahm, but the lesser known co-leaders of this quartet, guitarist Tom Dempsey and bassist Tim Ferguson, will prove just as satisfying, not to mention the impeccable drummer Eliot Zigmund. Dempsey and Ferguson have played together for over 20 years, and individually with such artists as Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes, and Dave Brubeck (Dempsey), and Eddie Harris, George Cables, and Stefon Harris (Ferguson). Frahm is perhaps best known for his work with Brad Mehldau and Jane Monheit, while Zigmund first made his mark with the Bill Evans Trio in the '70's and later Michel Petrucciani. While these four musicians paths have crossed previously, this is the first time they have come together as a quartet, although their sensitive rapport belies that fact. They share an economy of style and a clarity of expression, which help to make this recording (Dempsey and Ferguson's third co-led venture) so consistently rewarding. Randy Weston's classic "Little Niles" is given a respectful treatment that doesn't break any new ground but is tight and polished. Frahm builds a tenor solo that culminates with intense, swirling phrases, and Dempsey's foray is concise and lucid. Ferguson's bass is steadfast throughout, while Zigmund precise drumming is relentlessly stimulating. "50-21" is a characteristically fresh and appealing Thad Jones opus. Frahm's solo wails from the start, with rapid single-note lines in the bop vernacular, as Dempsey backs him with gently struck chords. The guitarist's own improv is anything but laid back, as he takes his lyrical opening to surging heights before giving way to Ferguson's emphatic spot and the bassist's exchanges with the buoyantly tasteful Zigmund. Dempsey's "Focus Pocus" is not to be confused with Lee Morgan's "Hocus Pocus," although this riffing theme is every bit as catchy in its own way. Frahm develops it with melodic flair, as does the composer, with the theme always lurking but artfully and zestfully enhanced. Frahm's tenor unveils the standard "Autumn in New York" with genuine feeling, supported by Dempsey's deft chords and obbligatos. Dempsey's solo is laden with lovely harmonies and possesses a graceful arc. Frahm follows in a charged and bluesy manner reminiscent of Houston Person or Lockjaw Davis, only to turn tender once again for the reprise. Zigmund's flawless brush work is the thread that helps make this such a classy interpretation of the Vernon Duke tune. "It's True" is credited to all four members of the quartet, and has a boppish head that Frahm and Dempsey expand upon contrapuntally. Dempsey's solo weaves sparkling extended lines, while Frahm's seems to fall somewhere between Sonny Rollins and Ornette Coleman in its restless journey. Ferguson's improv has a Charlie Haden-like stalwartness and is succeeded unexpectedly by a succinct tenor/guitar exploration of "There Will Never Be Another You" that resolves neatly. Cakewalk" is a New Orleans parade-style romp from Ferguson that is sparked by Frahm's joyful soprano, with the bassist and Zigmund keeping an infectious rhythmic pulse. Frahm, Dempsey, and Ferguson offer up solos that are both entertaining and adroitly constructed. "Ted's Groove" is Dempsey's tribute to guitarist Ted Dunbar, and its mellow, captivating theme finds Frahm and Dempsey floating in unison over Ferguson's salutary accents and Zigmund's forthright, prodding patterns, complete with drum rolls. The guitarist and tenor saxophonist each inject some funk into their unassuming statements, and their closing vamp allows Zigmund to expound uninhibitedly. The quartet's take on "Beautiful Friendship" is rhythmically forceful, as Ferguson and Zigmund maintain an urgent pace over which Dempsey and then Frahm burn brightly, the latter particularly impressing with his multi-faceted attack and tonal variety. Trades with Zigmund again vividly define the drummer's artistry, craft, and focused passion. Ferguson's charming ballad, "Last Summer," is warmly played by Frahm, with Dempsey delicately contributing the bridge. The guitarist's solo outlines the melody with subtle chords and a few swift arpeggios, but Frahm submits a boisterous commentary that he seems to create as one rapturous whole. Since the CD was recorded in Union City, NJ, right on the Hudson River, Monk's "Coming on the Hudson" makes for a fitting finale. Dempsey presents the theme in a staggering way, seasoned slightly with dissonance, before a repeat by the full quartet in a more straight ahead approach. Frahm feasts on the harmonic possibilities in his appropriately quirky solo, with Dempsey subsequently forming a string of alluring paraphrases leading up to the short but sweet reprise.” - Scott Albin

— Jazz Times

Inside Jazz Magazine, August, 2010 Interview Gary Heimbaur Tim, Thank you for being a part of our bass issue. Please begin by telling us what is currently happening in your career that you are excited about--new CDs, performances, groups,  teaching, etc. Thanks Gary, as it happens you’re asking at a time when a lot of things are going on all at once. As you know I have a new CD that was just released with a piano trio I have played with for a little over 20 years. The group is called Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson and the new release, is our sixth CD, and is appropriately called “Six”. It’s on the Konnex label and I’m happy to say it’s had very good reviews so far. The recording features two of my compositions as well as originals from the other members of the band; pianist Michael Stevens and drummer Jeff Siegel, and five standards. The trio really has a unique sound and we’ve played together so long that we have kind of developed our own ensemble style. I think this group is really at a high point right now and this recording is a great snapshot of our musical expression at this particular time. Previous to that release I did a duo recording with another long-time colleague, guitarist Tom Dempsey. That CD is called “What’s Going On?”, on City Tone Records, and we were fortunate that it was also extremely well received. Tom and I have played together in a lot of different groups and situations over the years and we made a co-lead quartet recording in 2001 called “Perspectives”, on Imaginary Records, but the duo format has always been one of our favorites. We did a few tours in Europe in the ‘90s as a duo and we’ve played a lot of other duo gigs over the years, but this is the first CD we’ve made as a duo. We’re really proud of it and happy that response has been so positive. It’s the hardest I ever worked to make a recording and I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever been involved with. It was even voted one of the top 100 jazz releases of 2008 by Jazz 90.1 public radio in Rochester and as far as I know is still getting airplay on jazz stations all over. As far as new groups go, I’ve got a couple of up-coming projects that I’m really excited about. In the next month I’ll be recording two CDs, and doing a number of live performances with two different bands that I’ve been working on. One is a quartet project that I’m co-leading with Tom Dempsey, (Tom Dempsey/Tim Ferguson Quartet). The group features Joel Frahm on saxophones and Eliot Zigmund on drums. Tom and I have been playing on and off with both of these guys at different times, but we haven’t played as a quartet until this project. I’ve known Eliot since I was in college at William Paterson University in the ‘80s. Eliot was teaching there and I’d always loved his playing with Bill Evans, so I was excited to get to know him. I’ve gotten the chance to play with him on and off in the years since and I’ve always found him to be a fantastic musician and person. Tom, Eliot and I have done some trio playing and it’s been great. Joel and Tom were in school at Rutgers together around the same time in the ‘80s and have played together semi-regularly since then. Thanks to Tom I’ve had the chance to play with Joel a number of times too and he’s one of my favorite musicians on any instrument playing today. When we started thinking about this recording those guys names came up, they were both available and it just seemed like the personnel kind of chose itself. Tom and I have been writing new music for the project and the group will be appearing at Fat Cat in Greenwich Village on Sat. Aug. 21 before we go into the studio on the 22nd and 23rd. I have a good feeling about this recording and I’m really looking forward to the chance to work with these wonderful musicians. The other new project that I’m involved in is a trio I’ve been working with for the last year or so called Inside/Out. The group is Diane Moser on piano, Rob Henke on trumpet and me on bass. This is another example of musicians I’ve known for many years and have wanted to work with more. Rob and I go back to those William Paterson days and I’ve played for years with Diane in various groups including her Composers Big Band. Both Diane and Rob are musicians who have a very broad concept and this trio is a group that can play everything from standards, to through-composed pieces to completely improvised music...sometimes in the same tune! I have wanted for some time to do more playing that stretches the boundaries of musical styles but haven’t had the right outlet. I’m excited to be involved with a group that can play freely in a way that’s not just wildly or angrily. I’m interested in finding a kind of ensemble playing that allows us to play with the same dynamics and musicality whether we’re playing Stella By Starlight or a completely improvised piece, and to do it with an ensemble that really knows how to listen and accompany each other. This group has also been a font of new compositions. Everyone in the trio writes and I’ve found it to be a real inspiration to write for. We’ve been meeting to play every week at The Allwood Community Church. in Clifton, NJ and the group has really developed a wonderful personality. We’ll be playing a concert there as a part of their “Music for the Soul” concert series on July 28th and then we’ll be recording on the 29th. On the education front: I just returned from the Hague in Holland where I went to the International Association of Schools of Jazz annual meeting. This is a group started by Dave Liebman and it was a great experience. The IASJ meeting brings together teachers from all over the world and a select group of international students. It was a fantastic week and it was particularly special for me as a bass player because the honored guest this year was Reggie Workman. I had met Reggie before, but this was the first time I had had a chance to really spend time with him and it was wonderful to be with one of the true giants of jazz and jazz bass playing. In addition, the week was incredible because of the astounding level of playing from the students. I had the opportunity to work with a septet made up of musicians from Israel, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Estonia, Sweden and the U.S. and they were unbelievable. It was really an unforgettable experience and my great thanks go to Dave Liebman and all of the people who put together the event and the organization. Coming up, August 1-6 I’ll be teaching a jazz bass bass seminar as a part of the National Guitar Workshop Jazz Summit in New Milford. CT. I’ve been teaching at NGW since 1988 and I always find it rewarding. Over the years I’ve had a lot of students there, some who have even gone on to become world renowned musicians, but the workshop is set up in such a way that it’s a satisfying experience for everyone regardless of whether they plan to be a professional or just play for fun. The Jazz Summit is a focused week for students who are particularly interested in jazz. They always have great guest artists and this year we’re incredibly lucky to have Ron Carter and Russell Malone coming to do a clinic for us. I also have a new bass book which will be published by Alfred this fall. It’s called The Bass Line Encyclopedia and it’s exactly what it sounds like; a collection of bass lines in all styles. It’s my second book for Alfred. My first was The Total Jazz Bassist, which I co-wrote with my old friend the great bassist and educator David Overthrow. The first book was really successful and I wanted to do something this time that would reach a bigger group of bassists, not just jazz players. I think this book is really interesting and it has something for everyone, from Blues and Rock to Jazz and World Music. I had a great time writing all the lines and studying the styles of great bass players like John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, Francis “Rocco” Prestia, Larry Graham, Ron Carter and Paul Chambers. Can you talk about your involvement in Film and Television composing and music direction? what is the process like and how did you initially get involved in the industry? How was it working on Ray? Working on Ray was a great experience. I got involved with that through my friend Gary Schreiner, a composer and producer that I have worked for playing jingles and commercial recording projects. He got a call from Curt Sobel, a colleague of his in L.A., who was the music coordinator for Ray and was looking for people to work with on the project. I was hired as a musical consultant and what I did was train an actor to act like he was playing the bass. I was extremely fortunate to work with Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who is not only a great actor but also great guy and who has since become a friend. Tom turned out to be a real musical talent, so I actually taught him to play the bass in the space of about 3 weeks. He was such a quick study that he really learned to play the instrument in that short period. I’m proud to say that on film he looks like a bass player whether he’s carrying the bass or playing in the band. I don’t think he’s had much chance to play bass since, with all the acting work he’s done, but he could be a good bass player if he had the chance. As for composing for film, I have to admit that that’s on the list of things I’d still like to do. I haven’t had the opportunity yet. I’ve been composing music for many years, primarily for the purpose of creating vehicles for particular bands or musical situations. My focus tended to be on playing and working with ensembles and my composition has been in service of that. Recently though I’ve started to get interested in composing more seriously and I would love to get the opportunity to write for film. What do you think is required for someone to achieve the level of success that you have in music? What are the necessary ingredients or character traits? Well, first of all I’m not sure what level of success I’ve achieved. We live in a strange society for people who want to make something, and even stranger for those of us who want to make something as ethereal and seemingly unnecessary as the music that I play. I feel lucky that I can continue to play music that means something to me, and seems to mean something to the people that hear it, in spite of the difficult environment that I find myself in. I’m not a big believer in the idea that there was some kind of “golden age” of jazz that we missed. I don’t think that Charlie Parker’s life was easier than the life of a musician of his talent would be today, but I am aware that it’s not exactly a “bear Market” for jazz right now. It’s strange that while the audience for jazz seems to have diminished in my working life, the number of fine young players who want to play this music has increased enormously. If I were to give advice to those young players I’d say what I say to my students as often as they’ll listen: If you can think of something else to do for a living, do it! Music is one of the world’s greatest hobbies and one of the hardest careers. Almost any other job will be easier and more secure. Things like job security and ease of making a living don’t sound so important when you’re young, but they get important faster than you’d expect. If instead you can’t think of anything else you’d like to do for a living and you really are obsessed with music, welcome to the club. It’s a club of people who have to work much harder than most for much less, and when you hear people say, “you have to pay your dues”, remember, that doesn’t mean you pay them and you’re done, dues keep coming “due”. The best advice I can offer is to make sure that the music pays you. I don’t mean monetarily because if you’ve decided to do this you’re already accepting a certain financial reality, but make sure you get what you need from the music. For me that’s been about the people that I work with. As a bassist I’m an accompanist. I know that’s an old fashioned idea now that we have bass virtuosi like Jaco Pastorious, Christian McBride, Edgar Meyer and John Pattitucci, but those musical giants are the exception, (and by the way they all play or played beautiful accompaniment). The rest of us mortals who play the bass are mostly in it for the ensemble playing, or we chose the wrong instrument. For me the pleasure of playing with all the wonderful musicians I’ve known has been the best pay I’ve had. Living in New York has a lot of drawbacks, but the one thing that I can’t get enough of is the never-ending roster of talent. Playing with all of these musicians has been a fantastic experience and while there have certainly been more than one that I would have been happy to have missed, by and large it’s been truly great. That’s what pays me. The other thing I will say is learn to work early and well. When you practice you should feel like you’re praying. It’s not about you, it’s about something much bigger, but you have to prepare yourself well for your part in it and learning to work early will save you from having to waste time on it later. Why do you continue to be so madly in love with this music day in and day out? I know that it is often hard to express why something makes one feel the way it does...it is often beyond logic, but if you can find a logical explanation for why this music continues to capture you day after day and year after year, please share it with us. I don’t want to repeat myself, but for me it’s the ensemble playing that makes it all worth while. When I play with a band and feel like we’ve really created something that is a unique statement, a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts, that’s what I’m in it for. I love great solos, technical mastery and beautiful compositions, but it’s the collective voice that gets me every time. The longer I play the more interested I become in hearing music in which the individual voices really become one and the ensemble is suddenly all working for a greater good. If I think of my favorite recordings, almost all of them have an ensemble sound that is more important than any individual instrument. Even Miles Davis’ bands with players like John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter, or Weather Report with Jaco Pastorius or Bill Evans’ Trio with Scott Lofaro or Ornette Coleman’s Quartet with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, all had an ensemble sound that was vastly more important than any one voice and that’s what makes me continue to want to hear them and what makes me want to continue to try to do whatever I can to emulate that quality in whatever small way I can.   What are some of your goals either from day to day, or for the future? What are you striving to achieve? I’m still learning and trying to grow. I hope I’ll grow as a bassist: working on my classical playing, improving my technique, sound and time, learning to work more efficiently and I hope to grow as a composer and arranger. As I mentioned, for most of my working life I’ve been much more involved in playing and working in the ensemble. I’m ready to write more music and take a more active hand in the musical direction of the groups I play with. I’m hoping that with these new recordings I can open some new doors to get out and play for more people in the coming years. I hope I’ll be lucky enough to keep doing what I do and getting better at it. One of the difficulties of what we do as musicians is that the real product that we’re constantly striving to improve is gone as soon as we make it. We can record, and we should and do, but the music that we make every day still disappears as soon as we create it. In some ways this is very poetic and beautiful, in others it can be extremely frustrating. In a competitive environment like the current jazz scene, particularly in New York, it’s easy to miss a lot of beautiful playing and to have the best music you make yourself not get noticed by the community. That’s where we need to be in touch with the music and be satisfied by it and not someone else’s opinion. I’m trying to learn that, to be demanding of myself and to satisfy myself with the music that I play. I hope the rest will follow eventually.” - Gary Heimbauer

Inside Jazz Magazine

I’m embarrassed to write that I had never heard of guitarist Tom Dempsey or string bassist Tim Ferguson before opening the latest mailer that held their new CD — a quartet with saxophonist Joel Frahm and percussionist Eliot Zigmund. I should have taken notice of Tom and Tim by this time — they are active New York performers, with credits including Jim Hall, Mel Torme, Don Friedman, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra . . . and many more. But now I want to make up for my omission. BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP is a splendidly fine disc, and I might have put it on the pile because I didn’t know two of the four players. What a mistake that would have been! I receive many CDs — and many, well-intentioned endeavors (often self-produced and paid for by the artist) do not sustain themselves. Some are formulaic: “Let’s play just like ______” or consciously anti-formulaic (which becomes its own cage): “Here are my six lengthy free-form original compositions.” Not this one! BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP is devoted to lyrical, easeful exploration of melody, harmony, and rhythm. It’s not Easy Listening for elderly recluses, nor is it self-conscious Innovation. These four players understand something basic about music: the truth that we need Beauty, and Beauty never gets old. Yes, Tal Farlow (for instance) played AUTUMN IN NEW YORK memorably in 1957, but that doesn’t mean that Duke’s melody is now forever used up. One might as well say, “Oh, the sunrise bores me,” or “I’m so tired of this (wo)man I love embracing me.” Do that, and you’re beyond recovery. BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP is not just about reverential playing of standards — by Randy Weston, Monk, Thad Jones — because the quartet stretches out and has fun on several originals. IT’S TRUE is an engaging group conversation that ebbs and flows over six minutes; CAKEWALK begins as a funky Second Line outing and expands before returning to its roots as delicious dance music. TED’S GROOVE is both groovy and uncliched, hummable swinging jazz. Although I knew Joel from his work with Spike Wilner’s Planet Jazz and many other ensembles; Eliot Zigmund from sessions with Michael Kanan at Sofia’s — they play magnificently, but so do Tim and Tom. It’s beautifully recorded, with plain-spoken but deep liner notes written by the two fellows. You can visit Tom’s website and hear excerpts from this CD here or Tim’s here to learn more about their backgrounds, their associations with other players. But most importantly, if you are in New York, you will want to search them out. I think that hearing them in tandem or in other contexts would be delightful — and you could say, “JAZZ LIVES sent me,” and buy copies of BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP directly from the artists. What could be nicer? As for me, I’m keeping this one! P.S. Why MUSIC FOR ADULTS in my title? There’s no barely-clad beautiful young thing on the cover; this isn’t advertised as Music To Make Out By. To me, “adults” have outgrown barrages of virtuosity (“shredding”) for its own sake, yet they want something more than another bouncy rendition of a classic from Django’s book. BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP will please everyone with grown-up ears . . . people who have removed the earbuds long enough to listen.” - Michael Steinman

Jazz Lives

Tom Dempsey & Tim Ferguson: What’s Going On? – Jazz Guitar Life Review Lyle Robinson| Aug 02, 2010 | Comments 1 I remember my first, and last, Bass-Guitar Duo date. It was just me, a bass player I had never worked with before and a copy of The Real Book. I was scared to death! It’s kind of like that dream we’ve probably all had where we’re naked in front of a group of people we don’t know. Fortunately, the gig went well and the client was happy. But I remember leaving the gig thinking, “Boy, I’ll never do that again!” I realized that I liked having another harmony instrument behind me and probably would not be up to the challenge of playing in a duo setting anytime soon. Fortunately, there are great players such as Jazz Guitarist Tom Dempsey and Jazz Bassist Tim Ferguson who have risen to, and met that challenge with great success, as is evident on their recent duo CD What’s going on? What’s going on? is a selection of twelve tunes, including three original compositions, that features the playing, writing and arranging abilities of two exceptional musicians. Both Dempsey and Ferguson bring years of playing to this session, along with years of working together. This special communicative quality plays strongly throughout this recording as each player leans on one another for rhythmic support and improvisational guidance. The title track speaks volumes to this effect and it is clear from the get-go that the three C’s, Comfortability, Communication and Collaboration are as much key ingredients to What’s going on?, both literally and figuratively, as Dempsey and Ferguson are. In other words, the performances speak for themselves. Tom Dempsey is a first-rate Guitarist and educator who has a composed, swinging and articulate playing style. His hip lines and chord work remind me of an older generation of Jazzers like Jimmy Raney, Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell than newer cats such as Kurt Rosenwinkle or Peter Bernstein. This of course does not take anything away from Dempsey. He has taste, great time and can burn when needed. A good example of this is his tune “Tandem”. A basic 12 bar boppish “Billies Bounce” style jazz blues that features some quick fretboard play by Dempsey as he skirts through the changes in a relaxed but still smokin’ fashion, paying heed to a few choice blues licks. Ferguson also gets to blow some nice lines through the tune and they get into a nice exchange of ideas before they head out in unison on the head. Another of Dempsey’s original tunes, “As Spring Begins” is a bright and soothing arrangement that has Ferguson introing the tune with a single pulsing note in time while Dempsey volume swells some alluring chord voicings before breaking into a gorgeous chord-melody that is as warm as a beautiful Spring day. Their respective solos keep the tune light and airy adhering to the vibe of the title and overall feel of the composition. The remaining original on this CD, Ferguson’s “Julie’s Tabouleh” offers up an Island like rhythm with Dempsey adding some cool percussive like tones played below the Guitar bridge. This tune reminds me of Jim Hall and Ron Carter’s musical conversation over Sonny Rollin’s “St. Thomas” as both players take the head followed by a great solo by Dempsey with strong fluid lines and chord soloing. Ferguson also gets in some fervent improv before they head out in unison. Another Hall/Carter reminder has Ferguson stating the melody to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” before Dempsey comes in on the verse with some full bodied chord voicings in a four to the bar type rhythm. This is definitely Ferguson’s showcase piece and he nails it big time! Dempsey takes a half chorus solo section before Ferguson comes back with the melody. A wonderful interpretation of a beautiful song. Nicely done guys :) Like the tunes mentioned above, there are many such moments that help make this CD memorable. Ferguson’s melancholy bowing on Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”; Dempsey and Ferguson’s unison statement of Thad Jones’s “Three And One”; the sensitive treatment of Charlie Haden’s “First Song (For Ruth)”; the Brazilian stylings of Barry Harris’s “Nascimento”; the Middle Eastern flavored intro and recurring motif to Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan”; the Gospel tinged “Deep River”; and the all out blowing by all concerned on Hank Jones’s hard bop classic, “Interface”. These moments are what artists strive for at the end of the day, and in this respect the duo of Tom Dempsey and Tim Ferguson have succeeded towards their end goal. Which brings me to the title track, What’s going on? Dempsey and Ferguson, in an effort to bridge the gap between popular song and commercial intent, find a way to let loose on a song that has been the soundtrack for a generation or two of cultural and political divergence and convergence. One gets the sense that the choosing of this tune was as important, if not more so, than the other tunes chosen for the session. As Dempsey and Ferguson state in their liner notes: “…this project was recorded during a time in our lives on this planet where we have a lot of questions and concerns. Not the least of which is What’s going on?” No matter the philosophy behind the tune, the song works nicely as Ferguson creates a funky groove for Dempsey to interpret the oh- so-familiar melody. And while Ferguson lays it down nicely, it’s Dempsey who really sets the changes on fire as he pulls out all the stops with some fluid fretwork and rhythmic strumming ala Grant Geissman.* Definitely a foot-tapper kind of tune. Marvin would be pleased. I would highly recommend What’s going on? for those fans of great musicianship and cool tunes. Of course, if you are a Jazz Guitar enthusiast then Tom Dempsey is a name you should get to know. And if by chance you bump into him on the street or at a gig, be sure to ask him What’s going on?” - Lyle Robinson

— Jazz Guitar Life

Review and photographs by J Hunter Sometimes you do get more than you paid for. Tom Dempsey and Tim Ferguson had been set to play as a duo at the latest “Jazz one2one Series” show at Athens Cultural Center – no big whoop, since the guitarist and bassist have been working that format on-and-off for the last 25 years. However, the Greene County Council on the Arts was nice enough to throw a little more money Thom Bellino’s way, so the Planet Arts impresario was able to bring in reedman Joel Frahm and drummer Eliot Zigmund, the other half of Dempsey and Ferguson’s latest disc “Beautiful Friendship.” Who says government can’t create jobs? What’s more, the initial shipment of “Friendship” discs had arrived that afternoon (“The ink’s still drying on them,” Bellino told us in his introduction to the pre-show Q&A), so the evening became an impromptu drop party. While Bellino did move some product by the end of the night, the late-arriving crowd came in looking for what one2one shows usually provide: A wide-ranging, informative and (usually) funny discussion of jazz in general and the players’ experience in particular. And the people who made cracks on Dempsey’s Facebook page about the remoteness of the gig (“The L Train doesn’t go up there,” one wag typed) missed out big time! The quartet’s experience goes back farther than Dempsey and Ferguson’s first ventures as a performing unit: Ferguson met Zigmund at New Jersey’s William Paterson University, where Zigmund was on the faculty at the time; at the same time, both Dempsey and Frahm were enrolled down the Jersey Turnpike at Rutgers. It was Six Degrees of Separation applied to jazz: “I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy… oh, you know that guy?” While all four players have worked with each other in various combinations since college, “Beautiful Friendship” marks the first time they’ve performed as a unit. And while Dempsey and Ferguson are more than comfortable playing duo, there are definite drawbacks, as the pair discovered when they recorded their first duo date and found the editing and mixing was a lot harder than the actual recording. “What you don’t get in a duo that you get from a larger band are places to hide,” Dempsey freely admitted. “In a duo recording, you’re completely exposed.” Ferguson added that a larger group does offer more colors to work with. “When the time changes with a drummer like Eliot, and the melody changes with a player like Joel… it’s magic!” And then we got to see that magic. They opened the musical portion of the program the same way they open “Friendship”: With a swirling take on Randy Weston’s “Little Niles.” Ferguson laid down the opening figure, which Zigmund began to embroider almost immediately, and then Dempsey and Frahm launched the melody, commuting from unison to harmony and back again at the drop of a hat. From there, Frahm took hold of the piece while Dempsey comped expertly. Ferguson literally bobbed and weaved as he laid down his fat, dancing foundation; contrariwise, only Zigmund’s hands seemed to move as he sat behind his kit, eyes closed, watching the music unfold inside his eyelids. Anybody who saw Frahm’s past Nippertown appearances backing Samuel Torres and Linda Oh are familiar with the rich, glowing tone that flows out of Frahm’s tenor sax. Frahm draws you into his space with warm, welcoming progressions that grow in complexity but don’t leave you behind or (even worse) beat you about the head and shoulders with how marvelously byzantine they are. He smoked us into a smiling daze on Vernon Duke’s “Autumn in New York,” but when he pushed the outside of the envelope on “It’s True” (the group’s busting work-up of the changes on “There is No Greater Love”) and Thad Jones’ “50-21,” you saw where Frahm was going because he’d brought you with him every step of the way. Dempsey's chords tell just as detailed a story as his progressions. It’s clean, it’s sharp, and it makes you want to outlaw effects boxes that do anything other than pump up the volume. Dempsey’s work on “Autumn” and the Donald Kahn/Stanley Styne tune that is the title track of “Friendship” was straight out of the Old School that graduated Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, and he applied that same galvanizing style to his originals “Focus Pocus” and “Ted’s Groove” – the latter tune written for the late jazz guitarist Ted Dunbar. While Dempsey and Frahm were rocking the melodies, Ferguson and Zigmund were building a floor as ornate as some of the 19th-century decorative items on display in ACC’s main gallery. Ferguson has an undeniable energy that propels him in solo and support, and showed a peerless sense of lyric during solos on “50″ and “Autumn.” Zigmund’s resume includes a stint with a semi-important pianist named Bill Evans, so you expected him to keep it elegant, which he surely did. But when he got to go big, as he did during trade-offs with the front line on “Niles,” he was more than up to the challenge, and his Second Line rhythm on Ferguson’s glorious “Cakewalk” was – like the piece itself – just too much fun! “Beautiful Friendship” offers bright jazz that’s tight as a drum and full of the life that too many people think has vanished from the genre. That said, it was a real treat to see this music unfold before us in an intimate setting like ACC, and the conversation that preceded it will make the space between now and one2one’s reappearance in the fall seem like a long, long time.” - J. Hunter


June 29, 2010 CD Review: http://www.thisisbooksmusic.com/2010/06/28/review-stevens-siegel-ferguson-trio-six/ By John Book Six (Konnex) is the sixth album Michael Jefry Stevens (piano), Jeff “Siege” Siegel (drums), and Tim Ferguson (bass) have recorded together as a 3-piece unit, even though they have done many other projects together in some combination for years. I know when I see any of their names, it’s in my mind a musical event, and together it means “stop what I’m doing, it’s time to listen to fantastic musicianship.” As with previous albums together, they mix in their original songs along with classic jazz gems, in this case we have Thelonious Monk‘s “Straight No Chaser”, and the pop standard “It’s Only A Paper Moon” (made famous by, among many, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole). I think what I like the most about these three is the anticipation one has for their playing individually and as a unit, as if you’re friends of theirs and you’re encouraging them to a school yard battle. You don’t want to see them fight, but this battle is a must. You don’t care about who gets hurt, it’s about the goal of winning, and these three play as if there’s no tomorrow, but with such a spirit and dedication to jazz that you want to know when they’ll record or perform next. Think of any master of jazz, be it Phil Woods, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Jack DeJohnette, or anyone, and you hear the echoes of them in Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson, whose reverberations on this album will soon be heard in the next generations of jazz to come.” - John Book


http://www.midwestrecord.com/ STEVENS SIEGEL & FERGUSON TRIO/Six: Piano trio celebrates 20 years together with a new set for a new label. A warm and intimate set that covers the classics as well as originals in fine style, it leans toward the sitting down side of the ledger but over all, it’s a dandy audio getaway. When you’re together this long and you can still work together the simpatico washes over everything. CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher Copyright 2010 Midwest Record” - CHRIS SPECTOR


CD Review: http://zzaj.freehostia.com/index.htm Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio - SIX: This is the sixth CD from this trio, & though it's my first listen to them, I've been reviewing music from the pianist (Michael Jefry Stevens) a lot over the last couple of years. The rest of the trio is bassist Tim Ferguson and drummer Jeff "Siege" Siegel, and they do KICK, folks, I'll tell you. Half of the tunes are covers & half are originals by the trio members... you have never heard as unique a rendition of Monk's "Straight, No Chaser " as they play... Michael's keyboards are at full-tilt all the way through this track, & everyone else is right ON TIME, to be sure. I also greatly enjoyed the Stevens' original "Song For Rio ", again featuring the piano and totally crisp recording that captures every little nuance from Jeff and Tim. My favorite tune, though, was track 5, "The Fire", penned by Tim... totally full of the kind of energy I cut my jazz teeth on, and a sense of movement that will make you want to get up and dance 'round the room for the joy of it all! 20 years of playing together have made this one of the tightest jazz trios you'll ever hear, & I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all jazz fans who want a taste of the best talent on the scene today. Their "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.97. Get more information here ! Rotcod Zzaj AKA Dick Metcalf” - Rotcod Zzaj Aka Dick Metcalf


Like the Evans, Jamal and Jarrett trios." That's what I accidentally read as I was searching for the cover art to Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson's new recording Six (Konnex 5243). Well. sure. And the fact that they are "like" those groups, that is, that they have intricate interplay between all three members, that the bass and drums have equal footing in the musical dialog, that harmonic sophistication and lyrical line weaving are the orders of the day, that they play a good number of standards. . . all that is true. But they also have carved their own notch onto that particular branch of the music. Six shows that with ten well-considered numbers. The originals, half of the numbers contained in the set, are quite nice and the choice of standards are nothing to sneeze at. "It Never Entered My Mind" is such a hauntingly evocative song and they add some harmonic tension to emphasize the mood of quiet despair. That's true of their treatment of all the non-originals. They are no mere run-throughs. All three players have a kind of intrinsic power of conviction (to allude to an album title by another trio that they are "like") and a thorough stylistic maturity that make for strong musical results. And of course that implies that they are well attuned to one another's doings on the bandstand (or the studio). Strength. This trio has it. Six has beautiful music going on. Lots of it!”

— Oakland Examiner