Scott Henderson and Robben Ford for Ronnie Scott’s

The Soho club is likely to be home to quite a few six-stringers in March when two of the most influential of US guitarists take the stage

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Scott Henderson around 2014. Photo by Curt Bianchi from the JJ Archive

The guitarists Scott Henderson and Robben Ford appear, separately, at Ronnie Scott’s in London in March. Henderson plays one night, 9 March and Ford the next three nights, 10-12 March, with saxophonist Bill Evans.

Henderson, a veteran of the fusion band Tribal Tech, formed in the early 1980s, and bands led separately by Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul, is noted for a guitar style that is both pyrotechnic and sophisticated. A primary influence was Jimmy Page, whence came, probably, his affection for the sound of rock guitar. He married this sound with a rich polytonal vocabulary redolent of the language developed by pianists and saxophonists in the 1960s but barely heard on guitar until the early 1980s. In the 1990s, in a series of superficially straight-ahead blues albums, he transformed the lexicon of the traditional electric blues combo by adding elements of that vocabulary.

Henderson appears at Ronnie’s with Archibald Ligonniere (drums) and Romain Labaye (bass), a lineup that has been touring music from Henderson’s latest album, People Mover, reviewed in Jazz Journal in 2020, as well as material from the blues albums and some of Henderson’s Tribal Tech tunes.

Robben Ford is perhaps best known for his relatively straight-ahead but distinctive, sweet-toned blues playing – in the early years with Jimmy Witherspoon and others and latterly on numerous albums as leader. However, he also played in the fusion arena, with the Yellowjackets and, briefly in 1986, with Miles Davis. He wasn’t much recorded as soloist with either group but testimony to his bebop chops can be heard in a 1980 festival appearance with Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and the Brecker brothers recently revived on YouTube.

The Robben Ford and Bill Evans shows are titled “Blues, Miles and Beyond”, suggesting some bebop or postbop will be on the menu. The lineup is Bill Evans (s), Robben Ford (g, v), Gary Grainger (elb) and Wolfgang Haffner (d). Grainger came to prominence, perhaps significantly for this gig, with the 1986-92 John Scofield band that made Blue Matter, Loud Jazz and Pick Hits, albums replete with a chromaticism that seems to echo that of Henderson and Ford in jazz mode.

Other forthcoming Scott’s highlights include:

Monday 28th February 2022 – Nicholas Payton Trio
Wednesday 2nd March 2022 – Kevin Haynes’ Grupo Elegua
Sunday 6th March 2022 – Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra (featuring Mike Walker on guitar)
Saturday 19th March 2022 – Wayne Escoffery Quartet
Tuesday 29th March 2022 – Callum Au Big Band ‘West Side Story’

More info at ronniescotts.co.uk.