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Robben Ford: Sunrise

Robert Spencer By

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Sunrise is aptly named, for this 1972 recording captures Robben Ford's stinging blues guitar at the dawn of his career. It contains the hallmarks of Ford's now long-familiar style: non-stop solos of brisk funk logic; clean and exquisitely formed lines; and a monster groove. There's also quite a bit of vocal work on this one: by Ford himself on Willie Dixon's "Red Rooster," Miles Davis' "Eighty One," and Ford's own "Sunrise." The one and only Jimmy Witherspoon shows up too on "Ain't Nobody's Business" and, with Ford, on "Every Day I Have the Blues."

The key word on this Ford outing is businesslike. Pulling no punches, taking no detours, making no excuses, Ford confronts these numbers head on and extracts from them the maximum of blues feeling. In the liner notes he says, "I have a tendency toward simple music, but it has to be a real, authentic, artistic statement, and it's never done without complete sincerity." Evidence to the truth of his statement is all over this disc: on his impassioned vocal on "Red Rooster"; on his otherworldly tenor sax solo on "Eighty One" (played with spare and ringing force); and on the inimitable sparring matches with Witherspoon. Most of all it's in his guitar solos, which with overpowering speed and power match and exceed the emotional intensity of a hundred solos from the shallow Hendrix imitators who never learned that often less is more. Ford knows, and knows when to deliver more and when to deliver less with unerring precision. Don't miss this one.

Track listing: Oh Gee / Red Rooster / Eighty One / Ain't Nobody's Business / Sunrise / Blue & Lonesome / Miss Miss / Every Day I Have the Blues.

Personnel:

Robben Ford, g, ts, vcl; Paul Nagle, kybd; Stan Poplin, b, g; Jim Baum, d.

Title: Sunrise | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Avenue Records

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