Robben Ford; Friday, January 10, 2014
Friday, January 10
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
“… a blend of Southern funk, blues and soul grooves.” – Jazz Times
Guitarist Robben Ford’s first love is the blues, and it is evident in every note he plays. No matter what the musical style, or project, Ford’s blues roots come shining through. The name of his latest recording, Bringing It Back Home, is an apt description of his current direction: a renaissance of the soul-jazz and R&B sounds that originally inspired him to become a musician. Robben’s distinguished guitar playing has been featured backing a number of great artists over the years, including Jimmy Witherspoon, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, and Miles Davis.
Ford was born in 1951 and grew up in Ukiah in a musical family: his father and mother both sang and played guitar and piano, respectively. The saxophone was his first instrument (at age ten). Paul Desmond of the Dave Brubeck Quartet was his idol at that time, but his exposure to blues guitarists, in particular Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield, reset his path. By age thirteen, he began teaching himself how to play guitar, digging deep into the history of the blues. The Bay Area was fertile ground with major venues, like the Fillmore and Winterland, featuring veteran blues artists: B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Albert King. He also kept pace with the radical changes undergoing jazz in the ’60s. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, and others, were engaging and challenging audience perceptions of musical form and expectations.
In his late teens, Ford started the Charles Ford Band (named after his father) with his brothers Mark on harmonica, Patrick on drums, and Santa Cruz’s own Stan Poplin on bass. They recorded an album and gained a solid following playing in the Bay Area before Ford went on to become a sideman for blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. Relocating to Los Angeles, Ford became involved with saxophonist Tom Scott’s L.A. Express – at the time the back up band for singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. Following his long stint with Mitchell, Ford was recruited for George Harrison’s Dark Horse tour, afterwards he took a short break from music making.
With one foot in the blues world, and one foot in the jazz world, Ford’s iconic 1979 album, “Inside Story,” debuted with a rhythm section that formed the basis for the first version of the Yellowjackets – Russel Ferrante, Jimmy Haslip, and Ricky Lawson – the longest running of the fusion era groups. In the early ’80s, he continued to record with the Yellowjackets while devoting time to his solo career, and working as a sideman for artists as diverse as singer/songwriter Michael McDonald, jazz legend Miles Davis, and saxophonist David Sanborn. For most the of ’90s, he led his own group, The Blue Line, a blues rock trio with Roscoe Beck on bass, and Tom Brechtlein on drums. In the past decade (after disbanding The Blue Line) Ford has gigged with Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), members of Little Feat, Larry Carlton, formed a “rock” band with Michael Landau, Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), and Gary Novak, and performed with Larry Goldings and Randy Brecker. The San Francisco Chronicle says of the five-time Grammy nominee, “Few blues guitarists have tones as sweet as Robben Ford’s.”
DATE: Friday, January 10, 2014
VENUE: Kuumbwa Jazz Center
ADDRESS: 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
TIMES: 7:00 and 9:00 PM
PRICE: $25/Adv $30/Door, No Comps
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at: http://www.kuumbwajazz.org
MORE INFO: http://www.kuumbwajazz.org or 831-427-2227
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