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Robben Ford: From the Soul

By Published: September 14, 2009
RF: I don't think that it's necessary to have played the saxophone to have it effect someone's playing. You're going to sound like the people you listen to. That's just a fact. So if you're listening to some guitarist that you really like and admire, you'll begin to sound like them. If you're listening to John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
and Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
and Miles Davis, you're going to sound different. That alone is a big help. Just listening to those guys can help give you a unique sound and approach to phrasing on your instrument.

Robben FordAAJ: Going back to your gear a little bit, what guitars did you use to record the new album?

RF: I used my Gold Top 57 Les Paul, which was loaned to me by Larry Carlton. I'm also playing, on the blues tunes, a 1960 Tele which I've had for many years. I also use a guitar called The New Paul by Sakashta. That guitar is featured all over my website and you can see me playing it on the cover of the Truth CD. Those are the three guitars that I use on the record, and they're kind of equally distributed over the album.

AAJ: Speaking of Larry Carlton, whom you've played with before and are going back out on the road with this fall [2009], his son Travis is playing bass on your new album. Do you notice any similarities between their playing, or does the fact that they play different instruments negate any comparison?

RF: No, there's really no comparison. They play such different instruments and their roles are so different that you can't really compare them. Travis is only twenty-six years old and he's very sophisticated for his age. Having grown up with Larry Carlton as a father is going to be a big help. He grew up around some of the best musicians in California, which means some of the best musicians in the world. So he's had quite the pedigree, musically speaking.

AAJ: You used two different organists on Soul on Ten: Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
and Neal Evans. What is it about these two organists that made you decide to use them on your latest record?

RF: They're both just great players, and Neal is someone I've known for years. Soulive, when they were first starting out, opened for me on the road, so I've known them since they were a "baby" band. I just love their playing, their group is so full of life, and I just really like them. When I had the opportunity to put this band together, I thought it would be a good chance to work with Neal and it's worked out great. He's a gas, just a great attitude and a lot of fun to be around, besides being a great player.

Larry Goldings is one of my favorite players out there today. When I want B3 on a record, he's the first guy I think of. When I go out on the road he's just too busy with his other commitments to join us, so when I could get him in the studio, I took the opportunity.

AAJ: You have an upcoming project with Gary Novak, Mike Landau and Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
bass, electric
. Can you give us an idea of what that project's going to entail?

RF: It's kind of a spin off of a studio band that Jimmy Haslip , Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
and I had called Jing Chi. Jing Chi made a couple of studio records and we performed only twice live, from which we recorded a live album. When the record company called and asked if we'd do another record, Vinnie wasn't available, so we decided to do something else and we'll give it a new name to go along with the new line up. This group will be a bit more rock than my thing and more instrumental than what my thing has been lately, but it's going to be a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to it.

Selected Discography

Robben Ford, Soul on Ten (Concord, 2009)

Robben Ford, Truth (Concord, 2007)
Jing Chi, Jing Chi (Tone Center, 2002)
Robben Ford, Tiger Walk (Blue Thumb, 1997)
Joe Diorio and Robben Ford, Minor Elegance (MGI Records, 1990)
Robben Ford, Talk to Your Daughter (Warner Brothers, 1988)
Yellowjackets, Yellowjackets (Warner Brothers, 1981)
Little Feat, Down on the Farm (Warner Brothers, 1979)
Robben Ford, The Inside Story (Elektra, 1979)
Joni Mitchell, Hissing of Summer Lawns (Asylum, 1975)
Joni Mitchell and the L.A. Express, Miles of Aisles (Asylum, 1974)

Photo Credits

Page 1, Paolo Soriani

Page 3, George Wells, courtesy of Robben Ford

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