ROBBEN FORD -- Tiger Walk (Blue Thumb)

Robben Ford released his seventh solo album recently, enlisting the help of Steve Jordan on drums, Charlie Drayton on bass and Bernie Worrell on keyboards. Tiger Walk doesn't have as much of a blues feel to it as Ford's recent albums. This one has more of a funk/R&B sound overall. It's also more of a guitar player's album, as opposed to a band album where the guitar gets pushed into the background.

After three albums with his band, The Blue Line, Ford decided to take some time off and find some new inspiration. Once he contacted Jordan and Drayton, the die for his new band was cast. One of the best tracks on Tiger Walk is "Freedom," featuring some fiery licks as it builds, then brings you back down again.

Ford does a great cover of the R&B classic, "I Can't Stand the Rain," throwing a trademark B.B. King lick in for good measure. The song starts with an almost tribal feel, then slips into a groove that just won't quit. "The Champ" expands on a John Coltrane melody, and turned out to be one of Ford's favorites on the album.

Overall, Tiger Walk is probably the best thing Ford's recorded since his excellent Talk to Your Daughter album. There are a couple tracks that don't quite work, but the guitar work is outstanding throughout, reaffirming his stature as one of the best players around.

© 1997 Steve Marshall