Robben Ford knew all there was to know about the blues pentonic scale before he was 20 years old.
Anthology: The Early Years
catalogs a pre-Yellowjackets, pre-Miles Davis, teenaged Robben Ford. This is significant because, Ford, at this time (between 1972 and 1976), shows more aptitude for the Blues than players do twice his age. This current compilation is based on four releases Ford made for Avenue Jazz (now codistributed with the Bethlehem archive). Thirteen of the nineteen tracks are recorded live. Original releases of this music are:
- Robben Ford— Discovering The Blues Live (Avenue Jazz 72727, 1972)
- Robben Ford— Sunrise (Avenue Jazz 75630, 1972)
- Robben Ford— Schizophonic (Avenue Jazz 71624, 1976)
- Jimmy Witherspoon/Robben Ford— Witherspoon & Ford Live (Avenue Jazz 71262, 1976)
All of the music is standard fare, but it is particularly well-performed standard fare. Ford's band here is a crack outfit with perfect time and color. If the blues were a Swiss Watch, Robben Ford would be the watchmaker. But Ford does not restrict himself to the blues alone. He pulls out his childhood talent of the tenor saxophone for some credible, Coltrane-influenced blowing the jazz standards "Eighty-One" and "You Don't Know What Love Is". Ford's composing is sprite and informed, serving as a prelude to his work with The LA Express and Yellowjackets.
It is hard to believe that this most youthful Robben Ford is almost 50 years old. He started with a prodigious gift and grew it into the talent expressed on his more recent Tiger Walk and Supernatural.
Personnel: Robben Ford: Guitar, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals; Jimmy Witherspoon: Vocals; Paul Nagel: Keyboards; Stan Poplin: Bass; Jim Baum: Drums.