Home » Jazz Musicians » Jim Ferguson

Jim Ferguson

I was born James Warner Ferguson in Jefferson City, Missouri on December 10, 1950, the third child of James Austin and Fern Webb Ferguson. My father had been a high-school music teacher for much of the previous two decades, but by the time I was born, he had gone into church music. Before my second birthday, my family moved to South Carolina, where Dad took a music position in a large metropolitan church. I began singing in the childrens' choir when I was four years old. (Since Dad was in charge of the music program, I didn't miss many rehearsals.) When I got a little older, my parents started me on piano lessons with the church organist, but even though I continued the piano lessons into my teens, I was always more interested in singing.

In my junior year of high school, I began studying voice with a teacher at the University of South Carolina. Then, during my senior year, I bought a string bass. The impetus for that purchase was the score of a youth musical being performed at church. It called for a bass in the rhythm section, and though Dad had never wanted me in popular music because of the stereotyped "performer's lifestyle," he let me play for the youth choir. I continued my voice study at Carolina, and after I graduated from high school, I entered the School of Music with a major in voice. It wasn't until after my freshman year that I started my first formal bass lessons.

I kept switching from program to program, always staying in the School of Music, but finding it difficult to lock into a musical direction. Then George Naff, a graduate student and jazz pianist, took me into a practice room and told me to play on every beat. He said not to worry -- I'd soon be playing the right notes. It wasn't long before I began to get calls from older musicians who wanted a real bass, even if the player was less than experienced. Guitarist Terry Rosen, formerly with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Nancy Wilson, was one who was willing to help me tackle the learning curve in exchange for having the sound of the string bass in his group; trumpeter Johnny Helms, a Woody Herman and Clark Terry alumnus, was another major influence and help. These two musicians are most responsible for my on-the-job jazz training.

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles


Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

White Sails Blue Skies

Paloma Records


Haunted Heart

Self Produced


Swingin' on a...

Art of Life Records



Chet Baker
trumpet and vocals
Ella Fitzgerald
voice / vocals
Mark Murphy
voice / vocals
Eliane Elias
piano and vocals
Abbey Lincoln
voice / vocals
Ray Brown
bass, acoustic
Billy Eckstine
voice / vocals
Karrin Allyson
voice / vocals
Johnny Hartman
voice / vocals
Diane Hubka
voice / vocals

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.