Jim Ferguson in 2004
|Birth name||James Edwin Ferguson|
December 23, 1948 |
Dayton, Ohio, USA
|Genres||Classical, jazz, world, acoustic|
|Occupations||Musician, composer, music educator, author, music journalist|
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Jim Ferguson began his early music education playing the trombone at age 7, and then after eight years of study, switched to the guitar at age 15. He moved to California and began his music career in the 1970s, performing, teaching, and devoting serious study to the guitar. He has since performed in the U.S. and abroad, is featured on solo guitar CDs showcasing his original compositions for classical guitar, and has had numerous compositions published in both anthologies alongside the works of other notable contemporary composers and in publications dedicated solely to his works. Jim Ferguson is the author of six highly acclaimed jazz guitar instructional books, including his best-selling first instructional book All Blues For Jazz Guitar, and is well known for his work as an award-winning and Grammy-nominated music journalist and editor, where he has generated groundbreaking and unique instructional articles for guitar players, has been influential in advancing how the guitar is played, and has spread his expert knowledge of jazz and classical guitar to the wide audience of Guitar Player Magazine and other music publications. He holds B.S. and M.F.A. degrees and has taught guitar and music courses at California universities for over 20 years, has conducted guitar and music workshops in the U.S. and abroad, and has taught guitar privately for over 40 years. A biography of Jim Ferguson is featured in Maurice J. Summerfield’s The Jazz Guitar—Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1900.
- 1 Music journalist/editor career, music education
- 2 Guitarist/composer career
- 3 Writing career
- 4 Teaching career
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Music journalist/editor career, music education
Before gaining widespread recognition and praise as a performer, composer, educator, and author, Ferguson was already well known in the guitar world as a prominent journalist for his hundreds of articles, interviews, reviews, instructional columns, and series for national and international magazines including Guitar Player (1979–1992), Down Beat, JazzTimes, Fingerstyle Guitar, Britain's prestigious Classical Guitar (1993–1998), and others. His advanced music education, which included studying with Lenny Breau, George Barnes, David Tanenbaum, Red Varner, and José Rey de la Torre, and earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Performance and Literature from Mills College (Master's Thesis: "Darius Milhaud’s Segoviana—History, Style, Implications"), enhanced the scope and level of expertise of his work and made him even more in demand. He wrote 14 biographies and two history articles for The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz, and edited several volumes for Guitar Solo Publications of San Francisco, including an instructional series on the works of Fernando Sor, Leo Brouwer, and Matteo Carcassi, and Federico Moreno Torroba's Castillos de España. He also compiled numerous collections of historic performances for Fantasy Records, Rhino Records, and Concord Records, and worked on several projects for other labels including Riverside Records. In 1994, Jim Ferguson and Orrin Keepnews earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Album Notes for their liner notes to the 12-CD set Wes Montgomery—The Complete Riverside Recordings. The extensive liner notes include a biography of Wes Montgomery by Ferguson and Jim's interviews with numerous prominent jazz musicians including Nat Adderley, Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, and Tommy Flanagan. As Jude Hibler (20th Century Guitar) said in her 2001 interview of Jim Ferguson, "With his many excellent accomplishments, his quest for excellence, and his sensitive, informed writing, it is little wonder that many consider him to be the Jazz Guitar Guru."
Ferguson's compositions have received recognition from notable figures in the world of classical music, such as acclaimed orchestral conductor JoAnn Falletta. An article in The Belfast Telegraph states: "Notwithstanding her reverence for the canon, Falletta has also been a crusader for...living composers.... She has championed contemporary composers like Californian guitar supremo Jim Ferguson."
Ferguson received early compositional training from Joseph Blaha (currently of Roanoke College). He also received coaching from Ernest "Red" Varner and many others. In the early 1990s, he began actively composing, with his flagship pieces being "Blanca," "Aurora," "Elegy," and "Nisene." Since then he has written dozens of compositions, some of which are recorded on and/or published in the works mentioned here. Regarding the style of his music, both playing and composing, Ferguson said:
- ...for many years I've written about, taught, and played jazz guitar, a passion whose roots reach back to the moment I first heard Kenny Burrell's version of "My Favorite Things" and got the notion that I wanted to do that. But I've experienced several other such moments, ones that led me to explore a variety of other styles, as well as composing and arranging. So while I love jazz, it's fair to say that I love the guitar even more, something that's reflected in [my compositions], which to varying degrees draw upon jazz, blues, classical, folk, and world elements.
In 2004, he released his first solo CD, Cedar & Silver, with Ferguson playing his own original compositions. His efforts were rewarded with the warm reception the album received. Dr. Frank Forte (Just Jazz Guitar) wrote: "All the pieces are based on engaging motifs and are full of musical enjoyment. Throughout the entire CD there is a wonderful feeling of soulful sensitivity demonstrated by this ever so multifaceted virtuoso guitar player." Tracks from Cedar & Silver such as "Aurora," "Blanca," and others have been licensed by various networks including A&E, ABC, PBS, Spike TV, and MTV India. "Brothers" was licensed by The History Channel for their special "The History of Thanksgiving." The score to "Asian Pavan," the album's "haunting opener," was published in the October 2005 issue of Classical Guitar Magazine, and "Asian Pavan" is also included in the Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music for Five Fingers of the Right Hand.
The Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music for Five Fingers of the Right Hand, edited by Charles Postlewate and published in 2009, includes original compositions by renowned guitarist/composers from Europe, North America, South America and the Caribbean, including Jim Ferguson, Ernesto Cordero, David Flynn, Gerald Garcia, James Lentini, John Oliver, Carlos Dorado, John Hall, Ricardo Iznaola, Charles Postlewate, Mirko Schrader, Burkhard 'Buck' Wolters, and Luis Zea. All pieces were written to be played fingerstyle using all five fingers of the right hand, a style and technique championed by Charles Postlewate and used by Ferguson and other advanced guitarists. The anthology features six pieces by Jim, including four pieces recorded on his second solo CD Moonstone. In his liner notes to Moonstone, Ferguson wrote:
- For over two decades, Postlewate has advocated the use of the right-hand little finger, which, for a variety of reasons, has traditionally been avoided by classical guitarists. I've used the little finger since I first met fingerstyle great Lenny Breau in the early '80s, and I deploy it at several points throughout this recording....
Moonstone, released in 2009, features Ferguson playing an all-original program of 17 of his compositions. The feedback on the album, and on his performance, has been very positive: "I think the CD is convincing evidence of Jim Ferguson's place among the great fingerstyle jazz guitar artists. He fits in the ranks of Gene Bertoncini, Charlie Byrd, Ken Hatfield, and Lenny Breau," according to Dr. Frank Forte (Just Jazz Guitar), in May 2010.
Recorded on Moonstone are six of the twelve studies written by Jim Ferguson for his collection 12 Simple Jazzy Studies, published by Les Productions d'OZ in 2010. Regarding the studies, Dr. Frank Forte (Just Jazz Guitar) said, "The studies are engaging and a rewarding challenge well worth the time to play them. I liked number 6, and Howard Morgen is reminded of Stephen Sondheim by it." The scores of two other pieces on Moonstone, "Cirque du Soul" and "Lady Di," were also published in 2010. Of this latter piece, Dr. Frank Forte (Just Jazz Guitar) wrote, "Lady Di, for Jim's lady friend, is a stately feeling, moving piece with interesting parallel movements and pedals. The movement from E major to A minor makes for great tonal contrasts and fires the soul."
Ferguson's numerous performances in and outside the U.S., both as a soloist and an ensemble member, have garnered great reviews. Cadence Magazine wrote, "Bluesy and swinging, Ferguson bears up under repeated listening." Jim Ferguson has performed with Tommy Tedesco, Jorge Morel, Paulo Bellinati, Ernie Watts, Ray Drummond, Bruce Williamson, David Goloshokin, Red Varner, Hannu Rantanen, former members of the Count Basie and Woody Herman big bands, and many others.
Ferguson continues to perform, record, and compose. He writes compositions and arrangements for both solo guitar and a variety of ensemble settings, including nylon-string guitar and flute, and nylon-string guitar and contrabass.
- Songs For Our Fathers, 2002, by the Robin Anderson Big Band, featuring Jim Ferguson and former members of the Count Basie and Woody Herman big bands.
- Cedar & Silver, 2004. Includes 11 original compositions and 2 arrangements/medleys.
- Moonstone, 2009. Includes 17 original compositions.
- Note: Not an exhaustive list.
- "Asian Pavan"
- "Sumi Dance"
- "Chuck's Waltz" Dedicated to Charles Postlewate.
- "Leo's Blues" Dedicated to Leo Brouwer.
- "Before Six"
- "Study No. 1"
- "Study No. 2"
- "Study No. 3"
- "Study No. 4"
- "Study No. 5"
- "Study No. 6"
- "Study No. 7"
- "Study No. 8"
- "Study No. 9"
- "Study No. 10"
- "Study No. 11"
- "Study No. 12"
- "Cirque du Soul"
- "Lady Di"
- "Dark Streets & Shadows"
- "Femme Fatale"
- "Requiem For A Fallen Artist"
- "Frankenstein Meets The Jazzman"
- "The Raven Vanishes"
- "Mad Love"
- "The Fly"
- "Winedark Sea" Dedicated to JoAnn Falletta.
Compositions dedicated to Jim Ferguson
- "Romantico y Allegro Ritmico," 1992, by Jorge Morel
- "Chinese Metronome," 2009, by Charles Postlewate
Ferguson's instructional writings for guitarists evolved into a series of highly regarded jazz guitar instructional books; to date, six books have been published. All of the books include examples written and played by him (on accompanying CDs). The first book in the series, All Blues For Jazz Guitar, was named one of "100 Great Guitar Books" by Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and this book along with the second book in the series remain bestsellers at Mel Bay Publications. The entire series has received wide acclaim; industry review comments include:
- "Superb. One of the most comprehensive and clearly presented approaches to this much dissected subject." —20th Century Guitar Magazine
- "Learn these smoky lines, and you'll amaze your bandmates the next time they launch into a shuffle." —Guitar Player Magazine
- "Taken together [Ferguson's books] offer myriad options in navigating various blues forms. An essential resource for students." —JazzTimes
- "The examples on the CD are well executed, and contain that classic dry-as-a-bone archtop tone." —Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine
- "Jim Ferguson continues with a terrific book of all intros and endings. If you've ever had trouble coming up with interesting intros or endings, this will surely help. Highly recommended." —Just Jazz Guitar Magazine
- "[Ferguson's] trilogy could help up your status from Jazz Wannabe to Legit Hepcat. Dig it, man." —Guitar Player Magazine
Jazz guitar instructional books
- All Blues For Jazz Guitar—Comping Styles, Chords & Grooves, 1997. Book/CD set.
- All Blues Soloing For Jazz Guitar —Scales, Licks, Concepts & Choruses, 1999. Book/CD set.
- All Blues Scale For Jazz Guitar—Solos, Grooves & Patterns, 2000. Book/CD set.
- All Solos & Grooves For Jazz Guitar—Position Studies, Scales & Patterns, 2001. Book/CD set.
- All Intros & Endings For Jazz Guitar—Bebop, Swing, Latin, Ballads, 2003. Book/CD set.
- Shapes, Patterns & Lines For Jazz Guitar, 2007. Book/CD set.
Jim Ferguson has helped thousands of guitar and music students in the many years he has been teaching. He teaches private lessons, conducts workshops, has appeared on radio and television, and has lectured and taught at various California universities. Highly regarded by many students, he received a Great Lecturer Certificate of Honor, a student-nominated award, from California State University Monterey Bay. Ferguson also served on the Literature and Pop Culture committee at Cal State Monterey Bay, authored the department’s guitar sequence and qualified it for the university’s learning requirement for Creative and Artistic Expression, advised students, and performed in and coached ensembles for department concerts. He created the Music in Film class at Cal State Monterey Bay, and also reinvented the Survey of World Music class at Cal State Monterey Bay as an online class, making it the Music and Performing Arts Department’s first online course.
Academic courses and universities
- Courses taught include: Jazz Guitar, Classical Guitar, Jazz Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Introductory Music, Music Appreciation, Music History, Survey of World Music, Music Production and Artistic Development, and Music in Film.
- Universities taught at include: California State University Monterey Bay (1998–2008), Evergreen Valley College (1990–present), and San Jose City College (1991–1992).
Lectures and media appearances
- Appearance on the Los Angeles-area cable television program Soundboard (1985), a tribute to Lenny Breau
- San Francisco Conservatory of Music: "Russian Classical Guitar" (1989)
- University of San Francisco, and San Jose City College: "Guitar In The Soviet Union" (1989)
- National Public Radio (NPR) program Weekend Edition: performance/commentary for a profile of Johnny Smith (1993), commentary for a profile of Wes Montgomery (1998)
- Numerous KUSP (NPR affiliate) Jazz Guitar Classics live broadcasts (1993, 1994)
- Topics covered include: Developing and Using the Right-Hand Little Finger ("c"), Fingerstyle Guitar, Improvisation, Ear Training, Classical Theory, Jazz Guitar History, Russian Classical Guitar, Jazz Theory, Classical Guitar, Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Guitar, Jazz History, and Fingerboard Harmony.
- Organizations include: South Bay Guitar Society (California, 2010), National Guitar Summer Workshop (Connecticut, 1988–1994), Midnight Sun Guitar Festival (Finland, 1988–1990), Sibelius Academy (Finland), Koupio Conservatory (Finland), Dixie Days (Finland), Chorus Guitar Festival (Finland), Kauhajoen School of the Arts (Finland), and Seinäjoki Jazz Society (Finland).
Ferguson has taught private guitar lessons since 1972. Currently he instructs jazz and classical guitar students, with an emphasis on developing and using the right-hand little finger for a complete right-hand fingerstyle technique. He also helps students prepare for auditions and performances.
- Master Anthology of Blues Guitar Solos Volume 1 (Book/2 CD set), 2000, Mel Bay Publications. A Mel Bay bestseller. ISBN 0-7866-4724-8.
- Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos Volume 1 (Book/3 CD set), 2000, Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-5291-8.
- Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music for Five Fingers of the Right Hand, 2009, edited by Charles Postlewate, Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-7756-2.
- 25 Compositions (Book/CD set), 2011, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-524-6.
- 12 Simple Jazzy Studies, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-322-8.
- Cirque du Soul, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-348-8.
- Lady Di, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-349-5.
- Film Noir—Four Scenes, 2011, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-487-4.
- Four Monsters, 2012, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-647-2.
- Requiem For A Fallen Artist, 2012, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-756-1 (also published in 25 Compositions).
- Winedark Sea, 2013, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN 978-2-89655-926-8.
- All Blues For Jazz Guitar—Comping Styles, Chords & Grooves, 1997, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. A Mel Bay Bestseller. ISBN 0-7866-3128-7.
- Western Publishing Association: Maggie Award for Best Instructional Series (1988) for Jim Ferguson's Master Series in Guitar Player Magazine.
- Western Publishing Association: Maggie Award for Best Instructional Column (1989) for Jim Ferguson's column Fundamentals in Guitar Player Magazine.
- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, San Francisco chapter: Achievement Certificate, presented to Jim Ferguson for his achievement in the recording of The Complete Riverside Recordings and nomination for a Grammy Award in the category Best Album Notes, February 1994.
- National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: Grammy Award Nomination, Best Album Notes, presented to Orrin Keepnews and Jim Ferguson for Wes Montgomery—The Complete Riverside Recordings, for the awards period 1993 (presented in 1994).
- "Jim Ferguson's Reviews, Honors, Awards". fergusonguitar.com. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
- Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, 1975, San Jose State University, San Jose, California.
- Master of Fine Arts in Performance and Literature, 1990, Mills College, Oakland, California. Master's Thesis: “Darius Milhaud’s Segoviana—History, Style, Implications.” Guitar Instructor: David Tanenbaum.
- The Jazz Guitar—Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1900, by Maurice J. Summerfield. 4th edition (1998), Ashley Mark Publishing Company. ISBN 1-872639-31-3.
- The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz, Macmillan Press Limited, London, 1988 (first edition).
- Jim Ferguson's album credits (partial listing) on Allmusic, retrieved June 22, 2011.
- "Jim Ferguson, the Jazz Guitar Guru," Guitar Profiles by Jude Hibler, 20th Century Guitar Magazine, November 2001, Volume 12, Number 11.
- "At its core, music is all about people and touching those people". The Belfast Telegraph. October 6, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- Liner Notes to Cedar & Silver, 2004, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2004.
- Cedar & Silver, 2004, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2004.
- Review of Cedar & Silver CD by Dr. Frank Forte, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, November 2004, No. 41.
- The History of Thanksgiving, a History Channel television special; soundtrack includes "Brothers" from Cedar & Silver by Jim Ferguson. Video clip available at: http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving
- "Asian Pavan" published in Classical Guitar Magazine, October 2005 issue, Volume 24, Number 2, Ashley Mark Publishing Company, CGV24/02.
- Moonstone, 2009, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2009.
- Liner notes to Moonstone, 2009, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2009.
- Review of Moonstone CD by Dr. Frank Forte, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, May 2010, No. 63.
- Cadence Magazine, November 1995 issue: The Review of Jazz and Blues: Creative Improvised Music, Volume 25, Number 11.
- Songs For Our Fathers, 2002, by the Robin Anderson Big Band, RABB 001.
- "Romantico y Allegro Ritmico" (to Jim Ferguson) by Jorge Morel, 1992 (creation date verified at: faqs.org/copyright), published in: Virtuoso South American Guitar, v. 06, 1993, found in Catalogue: "Guitar music, 2. Solo guitar repertoire, Selection 09.2010" at Artediffusion.com, retrieved November 21, 2010.
- Acoustic Guitar Magazine, December 1998 issue, Number 72: All Blues For Jazz Guitar by Jim Ferguson named one of "100 Great Guitar Books."
- All Blues Soloing For Jazz Guitar —Scales, Licks, Concepts & Choruses, 1999, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. A Mel Bay Bestseller. ISBN 0-7866-4285-8.
- All Blues Scale For Jazz Guitar—Solos, Grooves & Patterns, 2000, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-5213-6.
- All Solos & Grooves For Jazz Guitar—Position Studies, Scales & Patterns, 2001, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-6003-1.
- All Intros & Endings For Jazz Guitar—Bebop, Swing, Latin, Ballads, 2003, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-6735-4.
- Shapes, Patterns & Lines For Jazz Guitar, 2007, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 0-7866-7672-8.
- Great Lecturer Certificate of Honor, a student-nominated award sponsored by the California Faculty Association, awarded to Jim Ferguson for the academic year 2005/2006, California State University Monterey Bay.