The title of Robben Ford’s new CD, “Bringing It Back Home,” suggests a return to musical roots for the 61-year-old electric guitarist, who has distinguished himself since the early 1970s as a master of jazz, blues and rock performance.
Yet for anyone who has followed the Grammy-nominated Ford since his professional origins backing blues legends Charlie Musselwhite and Jimmy Witherspoon, through his years touring with saxophonist Tom Scott, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell and Miles Davis, as well as his impressive solo career as a guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter, the notion that Ford ever strayed from his roots is inconceivable.
“I’ve never left them,” Ford says. “The album’s title actually refers to a certain feeling I wanted during recording, a feeling of openness, an authentic, real vibe of people engaged in the joy of making music. That’s what I was looking for.”
Ford will be engaging that joy when he plays the Triple Door on Wednesday, performing some of the blues material appearing on his upbeat and eclectic new release.
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Ford’s solo albums have largely focused on original songs and instrumentals, but he has occasionally included tunes by such pioneers as Duke Ellington, Booker T. Jones and Willie Dixon. With the exception of one track (“Oh, Virginia”) he wrote for his latest release, however, the new album is steeped in the legacies of other composers.
Ford carefully selected songs that would lend themselves to an easygoing collaboration with other players.
“It was very intentional for me not to write, but to find really good material that felt right to perform and sing,” he says. “You find a great song off the beaten path you feel good playing and that you can relate to and represent authentically. Then you get the right group of people together, and it’s all about the joy of making music. If I’d written a bunch of songs, there’d be too much thinking about it instead of a situation where everyone in the band can be themselves, open up and just go.”
Despite that clear goal, Ford says the album was as much a journey as any other.
“The first thing I did was an instrumental, ‘On That Morning,’ an old gospel song by an unknown artist. The mood was like Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue.’ I was thinking about giving a deep, moody quality to the whole record, but that changed when I started finding songs like Allen Touissant’s ‘Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky’ and Charlie Doyle’s ‘Slick Caper Blues.’ The record took on a different personality, a close, warm, inviting feeling that you’re in the same room with the band.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org