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Herb Ellis and Joe Pass

Robben Ford is one of the musicians I try to see whenever I can.  With Wes Little on drums, Brian Allen on bass, Stephen Baxter on trombone, and Larry Goldings on organ, it was one of the most cohesive bands he has toured with, and belied the fact that they had just formed.  Robben was playing a 60's Tele and 60's Epiphone Riviera through a blonde Dumble.  Most of the music was from his recent cd Bringing it Back Home, which has a slinky, New Orleans vibe, much of it propelled by the trombone.  Robben's tone was mellow, and it was the first time I'd been able to see him in years without using ear plugs.  He has always said that he needs a certain volume to get his marvelous tone, and that he really doesn't adjust for room size, or indoor/outdoor.  Perhaps because of the instrumentation, he definitely was playing a little softer, and his vocals were much more relaxed.  His phrasing is legendary; simple blues licks become revelatory, and his use of space is magic.  I first saw him 40 years ago at a guitar summit at the Berkeley Community, on a bill with T Bone Walker, Shugie Otis, and Herb Ellis with Joe Pass.  He brought down the house with Little Red Rooster, and scared me to death.  He looked about 15, I didn't realize for some time that he was actually a year older than me.  I'm also enjoying a dvd of Robben and Larry Carlton "unplugged" in Paris.  They actually are plugged in, but Larry is playing a Santa Cruz acoustic steel string, and Robben a nylon string jazz archtop made by Toru Nittono.  Highly recommended.     

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