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Newcastle Herald

Robben Ford warm-up show a lesson in jazz and the blues

Rare treat: Robben Ford with his band of Doug Belote, Andy Hess and Jovan Quallo at Lizotte's on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Picture: Jim Kellar

Robben Ford, Lizotte's, May 19

Robben Ford kicked out the cobwebs in style with an enthralling two-hour set of jazz and blues.

It was the first gig on his Australian tour. He shook out a few new tunes with his road band - Andy Hess on bass, Jovan Quallo on sax and Doug Belote on drums.

The night was an exploration of new, with songs from his Pure instrumental album, produced last year, and old, as he laid down some blues classics like Automobile and Baby Please and Black Night.

A few of the songs were so new this was the first time in front of an audience.

The mix included Cotton Candy, What Haven't I Done, and Tangle With You from his 2018 Purple House studio album. Cotton Candy is a big blues swagger, which was a big part of the mood he fed to the full house.

Ford's combination of jazz and blues is offered up like the dishes at a five-star restaurant, where the menu just lists the ingredients of the dishes and leaves it to you to interpret what you're tasting.

Ford would kick off a song, laying down a wicked and clean track on guitar, Quallo responding on sax, adding to the story and weaving new lines and Ford would come back with a response. Finely practised. Or finely ad libbed. Both.

Hess was in constant motion, laying down a beat for others to play over.

Belote checked in with some jazz-oriented solos.

Their tight style meant the interaction rarely stopped - it was always all players on deck, supporting the solos, keeping the flow moving.

A rare treat.

Ford and the band played an encore, finishing the night in a blitz of blues. Nobody left the room. They'd waited a long time for this show. It did not disappoint.