Bassist Tim Ferguson’s unconventional trio Inside/Out is a collaborative group that makes its recorded debut with Hold That Thought. Sandwiched between a piece by bassist Charlie Haden and another by pianist Mal Waldron this engaging mix of free improvisations and original compositions brims with a warm intimacy and intense lyricism.
Haden’s “Silence” opens with pianist Diane Moser’ tolling keys that usher in trumpeter Rob Henke’s melancholic, long notes. Henke’s horn expands evocatively over Moser’s somber lines and the leader’s thumping bass. Eventually a mellifluous three-way conversation ensues that is full of evocative intelligence and relaxed camaraderie.
Henke switches from alto horn to trumpet after stating the effervescent theme on Waldron’s “You.” His burnished tone blows over his band mates rolling vamps fading out as Moser takes center stage with an expressive and eloquent extemporization. Ferguson’s charming and poetic solo showcases his superb virtuosity and his agile handling of the strings.
The lone Ferguson contribution, “Un Bel Lago” is a nostalgic and impressionistic piece named after the Italian/Swiss lake Lago Maggiore. His emotive con arco bass sets the mood for an introspective duet with Moser and for Henke’s intriguing and expectant monologue.
Henke weaves lilting, shimmering sonic threads around Ferguson’s thumping, pensive bass on his cinematic “A Drink and Cigarette.” Moser’s pianism cascades like an evocative harp around the melody. Moser’s own bluesy “One For Mal” features her soulful, suave soliloquy and Henke’s gritty, rousing embellishments.
The on the spot, ad-lib title track is the perfect example of their seamless esprit de corps. The musicians express their individuality in languid, pensive phrases that feed off each other and form an intensely alluring harmonic tapestry.
This conceptually cohesive record is a stimulating and elegant celebration of collective spontaneity. Ferguson and his colleagues, thanks to their superlative artistry, masterfully balance improvisational rigor with a graceful melodic sense. Hold That Thought may not break new ground but it is delightfully fresh and subtly inventive with both an intellectual and a sentimental appeal.
by HRAYR ATTARIAN Published: April 20, 2015