I went to my first concert in years last night. That’s not to say I haven’t seen any live music recently, but it’s the first time in quite a while that I’ve purchased a ticket to see a live musical performance.
Guitar legend Robben Ford rocked the house down at the Soiled Dove in downtown Denver. Although comparatively unknown to the music-buying, concert going mainstream, Ford enjoys a stellar reputation among jazz and blues professionals, and after seeing him last night I can state with conviction that his reputation is well deserved.
Ford has been around for a long time – he played briefly with Charlie Musselwhite, Miles Davis Group, Tom Scott’s LA Express, and was a founding member of the highly respected jazz ensemble The Yellowjackets. His solo work over the years has been excellent, though largely unnoticed by radio and the general public. Since leaving the Yellowjackets, he has largely turned his attention to the blues, and he plays them mightily.
I’ve seen any number of stellar and legendary guitarists in concert over the years – SRV, DiMeola/De Lucia/McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Charlie Byrd, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Steve Morse, Joe Pass, BB King, Jorma Kaukonen, Richard Thompson, Stanley Jordan, Roy Buchanan, and the list goes on. I think Robben Ford could hold his own on stage with anyone I’ve ever seen live. What a player! Fantastic synergy with his three backup musicians, a great big smile on his face all night, and very unusual stylings. He plays blistering rock guitar leads while his band is noodling away on some jazzy, freeform composition, then plays with Metheny-like introspection while the band is throwing down some heavy blues. And when he decides to let it rip, his flash, speed and technique are up there with the best of them.
If you hear of this stellar player coming to a venue in your city, I strongly recommend purchasing a ticket. It was a real treat to see a master in a homey, comfortable and intimate setting.