On first glance, a jazz group consisting of trumpet, piano and bass may seem a bit incomplete. 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, Howard 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 released 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 improvisation that is lyrical, melodic and logical. The program concludes with “You,’ a cheerful and swinging Mal Waldron song. Hold That Thought! is both adventurous and accessible, subtle and unpredictable. Get it without hesitation.