Ricky Ford – Ricky Ford’s Moans: Paul’s Scene
(Whaling City Sound. Album review by Adam Sieff)
The great tenor saxophonist Ricky Ford (b. 1954) has produced a hugely enjoyable album that reflects his influences and musical ancestry while still sounding in the moment. It was recorded for Neal Weiss’ Whaling City Sound label based in New Bedford, Mass, not far from Ford’s birthplace, Boston. New Bedford is also the coastal town where Paul Gonsalves grown up, which explains the ‘Paul’s Scene’ from the title of the album. And to complete the picture, Ford took the chair of Gonsalves in the Duke Ellington Orchestra under Mercer Ellington from 1974 to 1976.
This album was recorded at the Samurai Hotel recording studio in New York on June 25, 2021 by David Stoller with an exceptional line-up of contemporaries of Ford, 68: pianist Marc Soskinbass player Jerome Harris (playing a Ribbecke Bobby Vega Halfling archtop acoustic bass guitar) and drummer Barry Altschul. Ford is still as powerful as he was with Charles Mingus (and later with Mingus Dynasty) or as a frontman on his Muse and Candid era albums.
It is a pleasure to hear it in full flight on wonderment which takes a Schubert theme (“Wandrers Nachtlied I”, D.224) into deep spiritual territory. It’s a fantastic group performance, with Soskin’s powerful chords over rambunctious rolling beats before he also takes on a beautiful solo. It’s the longest track at just under seven minutes and, like the rest of the album’s repertoire, it never overstays its welcome.
There’s a nod to Stan Getz on Ricky’s Bossa which packs a lot of fire under its cool exterior, and Turkish influence in the bustle Iron recalls Ford’s time as a professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. casualness Fringe of Paris famous both Abdullah Ibrahim with whom he played in the 80s (think of the title Cape Fringe) and his three decades of life in France where he founded the Toucy Jazz Festival in 2009. He pays homage to Coleman Hawkins with versions of the essence of you and Angel Face (co-written by Hawkins with Hank Jones) and to Gonsalves himself with Paul’s scene – a powerful performance with Ford citing a number of classic jazz performances.
The high level of studio energy is maintained throughout the album, Soskin and Altschul are very experienced leaders in their own right and the level of support the four musicians offer each other is inspiring. Aside from the painful pun in the title, everything else about this album is brilliant, there’s not a dull moment or wasted second. Go listen!
LINKS: Whaling City Sound website