9:00am

Sat June 21, 2014
marc on the blues

Robben Ford is Very Much the Blues Renaissance Man

Robben Ford is primarily known as a very fine Blues guitarist, but his musical resume is more varied than a lot of people. Over the years he has worked with no less of luminaries than Charlie Musselwhite, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Tom Scott, George Harrison and Miles Davis. Oh my!

Born in California in 1951, Robben Ford took up the saxophone at age 10 and moved on to guitar at 14. At 18 he and his band were hired to back up Charlie Musselwhite, who I rate as about as good of a mentor a young Blues musician can have. Robben branched out, recording the albums Live and Spoonful with Jimmy Witherspoon.

In the 1970s, he turned to Jazz Fusion joining the L.A. Express led by saxophonist Tom Scott. Soon after, they joined George Harrison on his 1974 tour. Next he joined Joni Mitchell on her albums, Court and Spark, Hissing of Summer Lawns and Miles of Aisles.

Jazz aficionados will no doubt consider Ford’s work with Miles Davis in 1984 and his appearance on the Davis Montreux box set the pinnacle of his career. I wouldn’t go that far. Not because I don’t have the utmost respect and appreciation for Davis, but because Robben Ford has done so much in so many areas that it just seems out of line to limit the credit I give him.

With five Grammy Award nominations plus being named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine, it seems fair to rank Robben Ford among the best and most versatile of the Blues World’s guitar masters.

Note of interest to only us music equipment nuts:

Ford plays on Dumble amplifiers, possibly the world’s rarest and most expensive. They're hand made by the decidedly eccentric Alexander "Howard" Dumble of Los Angeles, California who rides Harleys (not so odd), makes pistols (not unheard of), lives in the chapel of a former convent (now we’re getting there) and chooses his friends by their ability to calculate Pi in their heads (believe me now?).

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