Joe Ford

Today's Night

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In the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, Joe Ford built a long résumé that included a lot of work as a sideman for McCoy Tyner, as well as appearances on albums by jazzmen ranging from singer Freddy Cole to percussionist Jerry Gonzalez and bassist Charles Fambrough. But the alto and soprano saxophonist, whose influences include John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter (among others), didn't do much recording as a leader. In fact, it wasn't until 1993 that Ford made his solo recording debut with Today's Night, a competent, post-bop-oriented effort that employs Fambrough along with two of Wynton Marsalis' former sidemen: drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts and the late pianist Kenny Kirkland. On occasion, Ford ventures outside and gets into some impassioned, dissonant screaming, but his playing is inside most of the time, and his primary emphasis is on discernible themes and melodies. Most of the material was written by Ford himself, including the dusky, Coltrane-ish "Blue Muse," the gentle "Amy's Waltz," and the impressionistic "Izit." Ford is at his most abstract on "Buffalo Chips," whereas the lyrical yet funky "Always Thinking of You" finds him detouring into a Grover Washington, Jr.-ish type of groove. This decent album falls short of being a gem, but even so, it was nice to see Ford finally recording as a leader.

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