With his ex­quis­ite ap­proach, Robben Ford of­ten proves that sim­plic­ity plus style and mu­si­cal­ity wins ev­ery time, says Les David­son.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Sim­plic­ity, mu­si­cal­ity and pure style from Robben Ford. Les David­son nails his sound.

Blend­ing so­phis­ti­cated and sub­tle note place­ment with a punchy tone and jazz in­flu­ences, Robben Ford en­cap­su­lates a fresh take on American blues. Born in 1951 in Wood­lake, Cal­i­for­nia, Robben taught him­self how to play gui­tar aged 13, hav­ing had his ears opened to the blues by Michael Bloom­field of the Paul But­ter­field Blues Band and Elec­tric Flag.

Along­side his two brothers, Mark and Pa­trick, the three sib­lings formed the Charles Ford Blues Band (named af­ter their gui­tar tot­ing fa­ther). Hav­ing cut their teeth play­ing the usual cir­cuit of high school dances and clubs, Robben and Pa­trick took a step up to work with har­mon­ica le­gend Char­lie Mus­sle­white. Robben was sub­se­quently hired by blues gi­ant Jimmy Wither­spoon fol­lowed by gigs with Ge­orge Har­ri­son, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dy­lan and Bon­nie Raitt, among many other level one artists – seal­ing his rep­u­ta­tion as a top-notch ses­sion mu­si­cian.

Along­side his stel­lar sideman ca­reer, Ford also es­tab­lished him­self as an artist in his own right, form­ing The Yel­low­jack­ets in 1977, along­side Rus­sell Fer­rante (key­boards), Ricky Law­son (drums) and Jimmy Haslip (bass). He spent six years with the band be­fore tak­ing time out to tour with Miles Davis in 1986, and two pe­ri­ods with Sadao Watan­abe af­ter which he set up his on­go­ing out­fit, the Blue Line. He came to many gui­tarists’ at­ten­tion with his 1988 re­lease, Talk To Your Daugh­ter, which blended stun­ning blues-jazz gui­tar with an ex­tra­or­di­nary rock tone and feel.

How­ever, Ford’s will­ing­ness to dab­ble in other gen­res has seen his gui­tar style break blues bound­aries and suc­cess­fully en­com­pass jazz, pop and rock. This, along­side his pro­lific out­put, has brought his mu­sic to a wider au­di­ence and he has en­joyed many high­pro­file gigs in­clud­ing as Larry Carl­ton’s spe­cial guest on his Live In Tokyo and other shows around the world. He has been nom­i­nated for five Gram­mys and con­tin­ues to record and tour with a se­lec­tion of dif­fer­ent line-ups de­pend­ing on his mu­si­cal di­rec­tion.

Your fo­cus on the ex­am­ples this month should be on mak­ing ev­ery note count; think less about the scales in­volved (al­though be aware of the har­mony) and con­cen­trate on note place­ment and tone.


Robben Ford with his 1960 Fender Tele

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