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New female jazz singers are popping up like daisies this spring, but their male counterparts are few—and the listenable ones even fewer. That’s one of the reasons why Jim Ferguson’s Washington debut deserves more than passing attention. South Carolina-bred Ferguson has enjoyed a long, successful career as a bassist with pop, country, and jazz groups, but his recent emergence as a singer-instrumentalist has elevated him from sideman to headliner. He began his professional career with a six-month tour as a New Christy Minstrel, then set his sights on higher goals, inspired by teacher-mentor jazz bassists Chuck Israels, Red Mitchell, and Michael Moore. Now based in Nashville, Ferguson has recorded with Al Jarreau, Lenny Breau, and the late Stephane Grappelli, and, since 1990, has toured and recorded with Crystal Gayle. When he decided to make his own CD, Not Just Another Pretty Bass, Ferguson formed a quartet of accomplished jazz players sparked by the lyrical saxophonist Chris Potter. In a supple tenor voice somewhat reminiscent of Chet Baker’s (but much warmer) and Mel Torme’s (without the showbiz schmuckiness), Ferguson alternates wry up-tempo songs (his self-penned title tune, Mose Allison’s “Swingin’ Machine”) with hauntingly intimate ballads including “Blame it on My Youth” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” At tonight’s concert, Ferguson will reassemble the musicians featured on his CD—Potter, pianist Pat Coil, and drummer Jim White—and preview material from his forthcoming album, Deep Summer Music, scheduled for October release. He performs at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th and Constitution Avenue NW. $20. (202) 357-3030. (Joel E. Siegel)