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If the truth of the pudding is indeed in the eating, then Robben Ford's own Truth leaves one somewhat unsatiated. Coincidently, Ford's releases for Concord have gotten a rather lukewarm reception from critics and longtime fans enamored with his jazzy blues romp, while the general publicand consequently, PDs and radio executivestake delight in the slicker soul/R&B foray. Considering his string of acclaimed recordings for Chick Corea's Stretch label, one is left wondering who exactly the targeted audience here is.
Of course, Truth finds Ford in his usual amazing playing form. Revered as a player's player for thirty-five years, his fluid phrasing and nonpareil ability at expanding the blues form leaves the flock of rather irritating, overzealous pentatonic wailers overcrowding the genre far behind.
Out of the cast of studio musicians brought in for mere supportive rolesnotably bassists Will Lee and Jimmy Earl, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and organist Larry Goldingssinger Susan Tedeschi's expressive performance on Paul Simon's easygoing "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor" steals the show. Her veiled tone brings that classic, bluesy grit missing in Ford's nice but lackadaisical singing, especially evident on the more in-your-face blues trackswhich quantitatively and qualitatively supplant the soul/R&B-influenced tunes here.
That said, there are a few rather distracting songs. "Riley B.King" is a last minute-sounding lyric homage to B.B. King, the "caring, crownless King of emotion," and "Moonchild Blues," whose upbeat arrangement does not fit with the lyrics about the narrator's heartbroken plea and hardships after having an affair.
More wowing are "Lateral Climb," a throbbing shuffle, "How Deep In The Blues (Do You Want To Go)," a minor blues with a neat release and superimposed rhythms as well as Ford's sweeping, second solo on "River Of Soul."
Nothwithstanding the few alienating songs and disconcerting fadeouts during solos on every single track (which are exactly those gone crazy, stretched out improvisations fans crave to hear,) there is plenty of pudding here to feast on.
Track Listing: Lateral Climb; How Deep In The Blues (Do You Want To Go); Nobody's Fault But Mine; Riley B.King; You're Gonna Need A Friend; One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor; Too Much; Peace On My Mind; There'll Never Be Another You; River Of Soul; Moonchild Blues.
Personnel: Robben Ford: guitars and vocals; Will Lee: bass (1, 2, 4, 9); Charley Drayton: drums (1, 2, 4, 9); Dave Woodford: tenor sax (1, 3); Bernie Worrell: Wurlitzer electric piano (2, 4); Larry Goldings: Hammond B-3 organ (3, 5, 7, 8); Chris Chaney: bass (3, 5, 8, 10); Gary Novak: drums (3, 5, 8, 10); Siedah Garrett: background vocals (3, 5, 10); Ken Stacey: background vocals (3, 5, 10); Jimmy Earl: bass (6, 7, 11); Toss Panos: drums (6, 7); Bernie Dresel: drums (11); Jeff Babko: Hammond B-3 organ (11); Russell Ferrante: acoustic piano (10); Susan Tedeschi: vocals (6).
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.