Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dempsey & Ferguson: What's Going On?

City Tone Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 5.1.08
Buy CD: What's Going On?

Guitarist Tom Dempsey and bassist Tim Ferguson, both based in New York City, have played together for years. They've been in numerous groups, from trios to sextets; more often than not, though, they play as a guitar and bass duo. 

Dempsey received his bachelor's degree in music in 1991 from Rutgers, and his master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music in '98. His guitar style is very modern — essentially no vibrato in any notes or passages — but wonderfully swinging. 

Ferguson is one of the few bassists with so much command of his instrument that he can play lyrical solos on ballads, and keep up with the guitar at any tempo. He comes close to the late Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen in that regard. As a result of their years together, they think as one: a major element in the quality of their music. 

This album is a potpourri of the old, new and seldom heard. Their covers of the spiritual "Deep River" and the ballad "Stardust" are particularly moving. 

When you want to listen to something smooth and soothing, a guitar/bass duo doesn't necessarily come to mind. But this release is proof that this combination, when dealing with two truly talented artists, can provide beautiful music.

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