Live reviews

Robben Ford and Bill Evans – Blues, Miles and Beyond at Ronnie Scott’s

Robben Ford and Bill Evans – Blues, Miles and Beyond

(Ronnie Scott’s. 10 March 2022. First set. Live review by David Freeman)

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L-R: Robben Ford, Evan Jenkins, Bill Evans, Jonny Henderson. Photo credit: Carl Hyde

The first of the quartet’s six performances at Ronnie’s, this early set completely blew me away.

Part of the power was probably due to having been starved of live music for two whole years, and probably having forgotten what a joyful thing live music can be.

The two front line musicians had both served time with Miles Davis and the show was billed as Blues, Miles and Beyond.

There was one straight blues in the set, Charles Brown’s Black Night, which was played with finesse and sensitivity, but most of the other numbers were Ford or Evans originals.

Playing a Gibson Les Paul, Ford made his guitar sing, sometimes with the plummy rounded sound of a big bulbous jazz guitar and at other times squealing like a mistreated and abused Telecaster. Evans contributed plangent soprano saxophone and rasping tenor. Wonderful.

There was light and shade, surprises, and thoughtful complexity. For me, though, the best bits were when I could scarcely stay in my seat and had to stand to voice my encouragement as the visceral attack of a spiralling solo on its way to a climactic top note is something I can’t sit through!

The absence of a bass didn’t matter at all because Jonny Henderson provided all the foundations and grounding the music required on his Hammond B3 and played direct, apposite solos.

Completing the quartet, drummer Evan Jenkins never put a stick wrong.

Miles Davis’ memory was referenced in the show’s billing. My recollections of later period Miles are of moments of semi chaos when the band around him didn’t seem totally sure that they knew what was going on.

This quartet, however, were totally on top of their brief at every moment.

I loved it.

David Freeman is the long-time bluesman at Jazz FM. In the past he has run the joint and been head of music. He is a mediocre guitar player – and also runs The Author Archive podcast.

LINKS: Blues and Boogie with David Freeman at Jazz FM

What’s on at Ronnie Scott’s

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