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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Beautiful Friendship

Planet Arts 301226



1. Little Niles
2. 50-21
3. Focus Pocus
4. Autumn in New York
5. It's True
6. Cakewalk
7. Ted's Groove
8. Beautiful Friendship
9. Last Summer
10. Coming on the Hudson

Tom Dempsey - Guitar
Tim Ferguson - Bass
Joel Frahm - Tenor sax, soprano sax
Eliot Zigmund - Drums


New York-based Tom Dempsey and Tim Ferguson are old friends who have often played together as a duo, but they have also performed in other ensembles - from trios to sextets. Here they play as part of a quartet, completed by versatile saxist Joel Frahm and drummer Eliot Zigmund (who was part of Bill Evans' trio at one time).

The album benefits not only from Dempsey and Ferguson's evident togetherness but also from the inventive and varied sax playing of Joel Frahm and the stimulating drumming of Eliot Zigmund. The repertoire consists of jazz standards plus two originals each from Dempsey and Ferguson and It's True (a Lennie Tristanoesque variation on There is No Greater Love which the four players put together in the studio). The tunes are well diversified, so that boredom never sets in. I was particularly glad to find the quartet tackling Thelonious Monk's Coming on the Hudson - one of Monk's lesser-known but unjustly-neglected compositions.

The unusual pianoless line-up generates an airy feel and, although they hadn't played as a quartet before, the musicians fit in with one another seamlessly. Many of Joel Frahm's solos sound simple but they have an inner consistency which avoids showiness. Bass solos often bore me but Tim Ferguson has a warm, rich tone which allows his ideas to carry through clearly.

The promoter of this album told me that "Although Beautiful Friendship was released back in June of 2012, this one may have slipped through the cracks". I'm very glad it didn't slip through the cracks.

Tony Augarde

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