Tim Ferguson Inside/Out. Hold That Thought!, Planet Arts 301417, 2014.
When Rob, Diane and I initially got together to play I didn’t view it as a set band. I knew I wanted to play with the two of them and explore what I saw as a mutual interest the three of us have in a certain kind of improvisation, but I just thought of it as a “session”, a chance to play for fun and I had the feeling that this might be the beginning of a larger group, possibly with a drummer or another horn player. As time passed though it became apparent that we really didn’t miss other instruments. The trio had a solidity along with an open texture that lent itself to a really interesting flexibility and there was a unique quality in the combination of the three voices that was particularly satisfying. Since we managed to meet on a fairly regular basis, over time the group began to develop a strong character. In July of 2010 we played a concert at the Allwood Community church in Clifton, NJ and the following day we went in to Tom Tedesco’s recording studio in Paramus, NJ. We just played through the concert again the same way we had the night before and after a little post production work the result is this recording.
This material is a mix of composed and improvised music and I hope that it will be difficult to hear which is which. My goal is for the band to play seamlessly from composed pieces to improvised music in a way that makes the improvised portions feel less like “free” playing and more like spontaneous group composition. The composed pieces are a mix of our own music and compositions by others we admire and all contain improvisational sections. Because each of the musicians is a composer and because of the listening that goes on in the group I hope we are able to create music that is different than anything we would compose individually but equally or more interesting and compositionally valid.
The recording opens with a piece by Charlie Haden, a long time favorite bassist and composer of mine. I first heard “Silence” on the recording Haden plays on called Magico by the marvelous Brazilian pianist/guitarist Egberto Gismonti. He has also recorded it on an album of his called Silence as well as other recordings. It is a composition that I never get tired of hearing, and playing it with this trio is a joy. Diane brought us her wonderful “If You Call Me, then I’ll Call You” one of a number of compositions she has written based on bird songs, and her piece “One For Mal” dedicated to the late Mal Waldron, one of the most masterful pianists and composers ever and someone who is far too often overlooked. She also suggested Waldron’s buoyant tune “You” which is the closing piece on the recording. Rob contributed the evocative “A Drink and A Cigarette”, which he originally wrote as underscore for a scene from a silent film, and the other original is my piece “Un Bel Lago” written to commemorate a trip which my wife and I failed to take to see Lago Maggiore in her native Italy when we first met. “Only a Dream” and “Hold That Thought” are both completely improvised as is “Trumpet Bass Segue”.
Needless to say this isn’t “straight ahead” jazz and with this unusual instrumentation it may take some time to get used to. In addition the feel of this music is an odd mix. Sometimes it feels very delicate and careful and sometimes it feels almost reckless. Sometimes it swings hard and sometimes it becomes almost hesitant. While much of the playing does swing and it’s all informed by the blues-based jazz we’ve all played for years, it’s not “standard” by any means. An interesting thing for me is that I can listen to this recording without the usual “wincing” feeling I get when I hear something I’ve recorded, the feeling of wishing I had played something differently, or hearing the “mistakes” in the music and when I sent the master to Rob and Diane for their thoughts Rob, who I know to be a harsh self-critic said the exact same thing. In some way we may have managed to get “outside of ourselves” so that the music speaks for itself. I hope so. I know the audience for this kind of playing is small but I hope this will find a few who can appreciate and enjoy it. It’s certainly been a labor of love.