Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Robben Ford: Bringing It Back Home

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

There’s a lot to like about this rootsy excursion. First off, the lineup assembled by Robben Ford, the veteran, Grammy-winning guitarist, is top drawer, with trombonist Stephen Baxter, organist Larry Goldings, bassist David Piltch and drummer Harvey Mason. Add to that some smart tune choices, material by the likes of Allen Toussaint, Earl King, Johnny Fuller and Big Joe Williams. Finally, there’s the leader’s expert guitar work, purposely unembellished for this relaxed, soulful occasion, and all the more evocative for it. What’s missing, though, is a singer who commands attention no matter the mood or groove.

Ford’s interpretations are straightforward and earnest, rendered without a hint of affectation. But for all his sincerity, he lacks the vocal power and personality to deliver a series of memorable performances. So it isn’t surprising that when King’s “Trick Bag” or Fuller’s “Fool’s Paradise” roll around, the tight, shrewdly arranged ensemble tracks easily trump the vocals.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published