Jim Ferguson

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Jim Ferguson
Guitarist Jim Ferguson at Bargetto Winery June 2011.jpg
Jim Ferguson in 2011
Background information
Birth nameJames Edwin Ferguson
Born (1948-12-23) December 23, 1948 (age 70)
Dayton, Ohio, US
GenresClassical, jazz, world, acoustic
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, educator, author, music journalist
Years active1970s–present
Website fergusonguitar.com

James Edwin Ferguson (born December 23, 1948) is an American guitarist, composer, journalist, and educator.


Born in Dayton, Ohio, 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.

Dayton, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Dayton is the sixth-largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County. A small part of the city extends into Greene County. The 2017 U.S. census estimate put the city population at 140,371, while Greater Dayton was estimated to be at 803,416 residents. This makes Dayton the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Ohio and 63rd in the United States. Dayton is within Ohio's Miami Valley region, just north of Greater Cincinnati.

He has 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 [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] alongside the works of other notable contemporary composers and in publications dedicated solely to his works. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

He has written several jazz guitar instructional books, including All Blues for Jazz Guitar. [16] He is an award-winning [17] [18] [19] and Grammy-nominated [20] music journalist and editor. [21]

He holds B.S. and M.F.A. degrees [22] [23] and has taught guitar and music courses at universities in California for over 25 years, has conducted guitar and music workshops in the U.S. and abroad, and has taught guitar privately for over 40 years. [24]


Ferguson has written articles for Guitar Player (1979–1992), Down Beat , JazzTimes , Fingerstyle Guitar, and Classical Guitar (1993–1998). As a student, he studied with George Barnes, Lenny Breau, David Tanenbaum, and José Rey de la Torre. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree [23] in Performance and Literature from Mills College and wrote his thesis on Darius Milhaud. He has written for The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz , [25] 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, [26] and worked on several projects for other labels including Riverside Records.

<i>Guitar Player</i> magazine

Guitar Player is an American popular magazine for guitarists, founded in 1967 in San Jose, California, United States. It contains articles, interviews, reviews and lessons of an eclectic collection of artists, genres and products. It has been in print since late 1967. The magazine is currently edited by Christopher Scapilitti.

JazzTimes is an American magazine devoted to jazz. Published 10 times a year, it was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1970 by Ira Davidson Sabin (1928–2018) as a newsletter called Radio Free Jazz. Sabine founded Radio Free Jazz to complement his Washington, D.C. record store that he founded in 1962. As a newsletter, it informed consumers of the latest jazz releases and provided jazz broadcasters with news and backstories related to playlists.

George Barnes (musician) American musician

George Warren Barnes was an American swing jazz guitarist who played the first electric guitar in 1931. He made the first commercial recording of an electric guitar on March 1, 1938, in sessions with Big Bill Broonzy.

In 1994, Ferguson and Orrin Keepnews earned a Grammy Award nomination [20] for Best Album Notes for their liner notes to the 12-CD set Wes MontgomeryThe Complete Riverside Recordings . The notes include a biography of Montgomery by Ferguson and interviews with Nat Adderley, Ron Carter, Kenny Burrell, John Scofield, and Tommy Flanagan. [27]

Orrin Keepnews American record producer

Orrin Keepnews was an American jazz writer and record producer known for founding Riverside Records and Milestone Records, for freelance work, and for his work at other labels.

Grammy Award accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

Wes Montgomery American jazz musician

John Leslie "Wes" Montgomery was an American jazz guitarist. Montgomery was known for an unusual technique of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb which granted him a distinctive sound. He often worked with his brothers Buddy and Monk and with organist Jimmy Smith. Montgomery's recordings up to 1965 were oriented towards hard bop, soul jazz, and post bop, but around 1965 he began recording more pop-oriented instrumental albums that found mainstream success. His later guitar style influenced jazz fusion and smooth jazz.


Ferguson writes compositions and arrangements for both solo guitar and ensemble settings, including nylon-string guitar and flute, and nylon-string guitar and contrabass. He learned composition from Joseph Blaha and Ernest "Red" Varner. In the early 1990s, he began composing. In 2004, he released his first solo album, Cedar & Silver. [28] Tracks from Cedar & Silver such as "Aurora" and "Blanca" have been licensed by A&E, ABC, PBS, Spike TV, and MTV India. "Brothers" was licensed by The History Channel for their special "The History of Thanksgiving." [29] The score to "Asian Pavan" [30] was published in the October 2005 issue of Classical Guitar magazine [31] and was included in the Contemporary Anthology of Solo Guitar Music for Five Fingers of the Right Hand. [3] [32]

Moonstone (2009) consists of original compositions, including six pieces from 12 Simple Jazzy Studies. [6] Other published works by Ferguson include Film Noir—Four Scenes, [9] "Requiem for a Fallen Artist," [11] Four Monsters, [10] 12 Semi-Simple Jazzy Studies, [14] "Winedark Sea," [12] and Jazzotica. [13] He has performed with Paulo Bellinati, Ray Drummond, Jorge Morel, Tommy Tedesco, and Ernie Watts.

Teaching and writing

Ferguson has taught jazz and classical guitar privately and at California State University Monterey Bay (1998–2008), Evergreen Valley College (1990–2018), and San Jose City College (1991–1992). He has given private lessons, conducted workshops, and has appeared on radio and television.

Ferguson's instructional books include examples written and played by him (on accompanying CDs). The first book in the series, All Blues for Jazz Guitar, [16] was named one of "100 Great Guitar Books" by Acoustic Guitar Magazine . [33]


As leader

As guest

Recordings by other artists

Published compositions

Note: Not an exhaustive list.

Compositions dedicated to Jim Ferguson

Jazz guitar instructional books

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  1. 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.
  2. Master Anthology of Jazz Guitar Solos Volume 1 (Book/3 CD set), 2000, Mel Bay Publications. ISBN   0-7866-5291-8.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 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.
  4. 1 2 25 Compositions (Book/CD set), 2011, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-524-6.
  5. 1 2 3 Learn & Conquer Guitar Repertoire with Xuefei Yang, Intermediate 1, 2015, Various composers, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89503-738-5.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 12 Simple Jazzy Studies, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-322-8.
  7. 1 2 Cirque du Soul, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-348-8.
  8. 1 2 Lady Di, 2010, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-349-5.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Film Noir—Four Scenes, 2011, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-487-4.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Four Monsters, 2012, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-647-2.
  11. 1 2 3 4 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).
  12. 1 2 3 Winedark Sea, 2013, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89655-926-8.
  13. 1 2 3 Jazzotica, 2014, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89737-227-9.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 12 Semi-Simple Jazzy Studies, 2015, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89737-390-0.
  15. 1 2 Night Cats, 2017, by Jim Ferguson, Les Productions d'OZ, Canada. ISBN   978-2-89737-768-7.
  16. 1 2 3 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.
  17. Western Publishing Association: Maggie Award for Best Instructional Series (1988) for Jim Ferguson's Master Series in Guitar Player .
  18. Western Publishing Association: Maggie Award for Best Instructional Column (1989) for Jim Ferguson's column Fundamentals in Guitar Player.
  19. 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.
  20. 1 2 National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: Grammy Award Nomination, Best Album Notes, presented to Orrin Keepnews and Jim Ferguson for Wes Montgomery—Wes Montgomery: The Complete Riverside Recordings|The Complete Riverside Recordings, for the awards period 1993 (presented in 1994).
  21. "Jim Ferguson's Reviews, Honors, Awards". fergusonguitar.com. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
  22. Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design, 1975, San Jose State University, San Jose, California.
  23. 1 2 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.
  24. 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.
  25. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz , Macmillan Press Limited, London, 1988 (first edition).
  26. Jim Ferguson's album credits (partial listing) on Allmusic, retrieved June 22, 2011.
  27. "Jim Ferguson, the Jazz Guitar Guru," Guitar Profiles by Jude Hibler, 20th Century Guitar Magazine, November 2001, Volume 12, Number 11.
  28. 1 2 3 Cedar & Silver, 2004, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2004.
  29. 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
  30. Review of Cedar & Silver CD by Dr. Frank Forte, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, November 2004, No. 41.
  31. 1 2 "Asian Pavan" published in Classical Guitar, October 2005 issue, Volume 24, Number 2, Ashley Mark Publishing Company, CGV24/02.
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Moonstone, 2009, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2009.
  33. Acoustic Guitar Magazine , December 1998 issue, Number 72: All Blues For Jazz Guitar by Jim Ferguson named one of "100 Great Guitar Books."
  34. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 24 Jazzy Studies, 2015, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2015.
  35. Songs For Our Fathers, 2002, by the Robin Anderson Big Band, RABB 001.
  36. 1 2 25 Compositions, 2011, by Marlène Demers-Lemay, Les Productions d'OZ, DZ1625CD.
  37. 1 2 3 4 5 Fairy Tales, Monsters and Wild Animals, 2017, by Meredith Connie, Move Records, MCD 567.
  38. 1 2 Liner notes to Moonstone, 2009, by Jim Ferguson, Spring Street Records, SSR-2009.
  39. Dedication of "Winedark Sea" to JoAnn Falletta found on Jim Ferguson's Books, Compositions, and CDs, retrieved June 9, 2016.
  40. "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.
  41. 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. ISBN   0-7866-4285-8.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 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.
  46. Comping Standards for Jazz Guitar, 2014, by Jim Ferguson. Book/CD set. Published by Guitar Master Class Publications, distributed by Mel Bay Publications. ISBN   978-078-668-586-8.