Bill Evans & Robben Ford: Common Ground

The saxophonist and guitarist, both Miles Davis alumni, play a strong set of funk, blues and jazz-rock with Darryl Jones and Keith Carlock

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The influence of Miles Davis is the thread that runs through this fine album of jazz-rock originals. Robben Ford, Bill Evans and Darryl Jones all performed with Davis at different stages in the trumpeter’s career and a sense of creative restlessness and the urge to try new things comes over strongly in this music.

Influenced by classic blues, soul, rock and roll – and indeed pop – this is a terrific mix of driving, vibrant compositions, balanced with some gentler ballads and vocals from Max Mutzke on the track Common Ground.

The liner notes confirm the influence of Davis on Evans’s approach to making music – to be himself and to trust where his instincts take him. Evans and Ford have worked together for a while – for example, on the album Sun Room – and there is a polished, relaxed and collaborative sound to what unfolds. Their 2022 appearance at Ronnie Scott’s was reviewed in Jazz Journal.

A lovely Latin beat underpins Hearts Of Havana, while on Stanley the driving guitar mood seems to offer more than a nod to Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way.

Currently with Steely Dan, drummer Keith Carlock provides a standout performance across Common Ground. Always present but never domineering, his work is superb, adding drive and drama as the compositions gather pace.

A hugely enjoyable listen, Common Ground is effortlessly creative and effortlessly cool, which takes us back to where we started – Miles Davis.

Discography
(1) Ever Ready Sunday; Crabshaw Don’t Care; Sentimental Mode; Hearts Of Havana; (2) Common Ground; (1) Passaic; Stanley; Dennis The Menace; The Little Boxer (56.00)
(1) Robben Ford (g, kyb); Bill Evans (ts, ss, kyb); Darryl Jones (b); Keith Carlock (d). Nashville, Tennessee, January 2020.
(2) as (1) plus Max Mutzke (v); Clifford Carter (p, org).
MPS Records 0217884MS1