Robben Ford

Join Pete Cal­lard as he ex­am­ines the great­est licks from the gi­ants of jazz gui­tar. This month, the jazz­ier side of blues­man Robben Ford...

Guitar Techniques - - LEARNING ZONE -

of those; the jazz be­ing where the har­monic hip­ness comes from, and the blues be­ing so strongly about feel­ing. I liked the English style, but I was more drawn to Mike Bloom­field and BB King; and sax play­ers John Coltrane and Wayne shorter, Archie shepp (my all time hero); or­nette Cole­man, Pharoah san­ders…

“i didn’t learn note for note; it was lis­ten­ing and then ap­ply­ing. one of the es­sen­tial things was lis­ten­ing to sax­o­phone play­ers, not gui­tar play­ers. If you lis­ten to an­other in­stru­ment it doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally ap­ply to yours, so you have to make an ef­fort to make things work on the gui­tar. Con­se­quently you’re not gonna sound like a sax player, but you’re not gonna sound like other gui­tar play­ers ei­ther, so there’s a greater op­por­tu­nity to de­velop a style.

“there’s more har­monic adventure in jazz, and the de­mands are greater on an in­stru­men­tal­ist, so to de­velop you need a chal­lenge. For me play­ing only blues was limited, but the blues as a foun­da­tion is es­sen­tial.

“My style is very blues and pen­ta­tonic and I use the other stuff largely as pass­ing tones to get from one chord to the next. it’s years of do­ing it by ear and know­ing what scale there is over any given chord. i never learned a bunch of licks. I kept my mu­sic sim­ple pen­ta­tonic and blues ori­ented, just played and played and pushed my­self. I would use the pen­ta­tonic to make melodies, and play with how much you can get out of five notes - if your life de­pends on it, what will hap­pen?

“What’s re­ally im­por­tant is who you lis­ten to. so again, i lis­ten to sax­o­phone play­ers and Miles Davis’s trum­pet so there’s more of a ten­dency to play in a melodic way; they have to breathe so their phrases are more bro­ken up; not like gui­tar play­ers who don’t have to breathe so they can play all day. it’s like lan­guage; every­body speaks with in­flec­tion, so you bring that into your play­ing.

“It’s im­por­tant to em­brace your hand­i­caps cause that too will help you de­velop quicker. There are cer­tain things that you can do and cer­tain things that you can’t. Every­body has their strengths and weak­nesses so it helps if you let your body tell you what you do best.”

Ford’s solo­ing style is Pen­ta­tonic based, but he likes to hint at the changes and throw in the oc­ca­sional har­monic curve ball, all cou­pled to sub­lime touch, tone and phras­ing - an en­vi­able com­bi­na­tion that places him among the world’s most revered play­ers.

Although pri­mar­ily favour­ing the blues th­ese days, in the late 70s and early 80s Ford

For me play­ing only blues gui­tar was limited, but the blues as a foun­da­tion to me is es­sen­tial. Robben Ford

had one foot squarely in the fu­sion camp, evinced in his de­but solo re­lease The In­side Story and tenures with The Yel­low­jack­ets and Miles Davis. As such, I thought it would be in­ter­est­ing to fo­cus on this over­looked area of his play­ing. so we’ve got seven ex­am­ples in all - along­side great har­monic ideas, re­mem­ber it’s the phras­ing and ar­tic­u­la­tion that are key to what makes them such storm­ing lines.

That’s it from me for the Jazz col­umn, although I’ll hope­fully be re­turn­ing to GT’s hal­lowed pages from time to time. thanks to ev­ery­one who’s fol­lowed th­ese col­umns over the years - it’s been a priv­i­lege to write about jazz for all this time, and i hope they’ve proved il­lu­mi­nat­ing, in­struc­tive, inspiring and per­haps, oc­ca­sion­ally, even en­ter­tain­ing!

Robben Ford: meld­ing blues and jazz

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.