Blues guitar, jazz sophistication

Ford makes name for himself after backing up greats

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Some people struggle their whole lives to get noticed in the music world. For Robben Ford, it took six months. He was 18 years old when he got picked up as a guitar player for Charlie Musselwhite.

Since then, he's played with everyone, including Miles Davis, George Harrison and Joni Mitchell. If there was music history being made in the past three decades, Ford was playing back-up.

In the 1990s, Ford finally stepped to the front of his own band, and he's stayed there ever since. Listen closely to Ford's brand of rhythm and blues, and you'll hear a jazzman.

His first instrument was the saxophone, and his musical teeth were cut on John Coletrane and Ornette Cole--man.

"I really like the adventurous style of Ornette Coleman," he said.

When he switched to guitar, he struggled to translate that far-out sound into his new instrument.

"What I've done over the years is tried to keep the adventurous spirit of that music in my playing. I never really liked jazz guitar because, to me, the guitar sounds best as a rhythm instrument and as a blues voice."

Ford is best known for improvising in a genre that usually is more song-oriented, and solos are kept to a minimum.

For tonight's show, Ford said the audience can expect a lot of songs from his latest album, "Keep on Running," a Booker T. and the MGs-inspired, traditional album.

There are a fair number of covers on the album from the Spencer Davis Group and Cream.

"I guarantee you'll enjoy it," he said.

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