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Robben Ford and Bill Evans announce new album, Common Ground, share soulful title track

Robben Ford and Bill Evans performing live
(Image credit: Diego Puletto/Getty Images)

Blues guitar virtuoso Robben Ford and saxophone ace Bill Evans have announced Common Ground – a new collaborative album that will arrive September 30.

To usher in the news, the two jazz masters have dropped the effort’s lead single and title track, for which they’ve recruited German vocalist Max Mutzke.

With the help of Ford and Evans’ Common Ground rhythm section – comprising bassist Darryl Jones and drummer Keith Carlcok – the quintet serve up four minutes of soulful goodness, brimming with silky sax solos and sweet six-string embellishments.

Though Ford is rooted to the rhythm spot for much of the track – which he delivers via a tasteful, tremolo-tinged tone – he does let loose for a guitar solo around the 2:10 mark, making the most of a meaty tone for a string of box-pushing fretboard noodles.

Of the album, Ford commented, “I feel the music presented here is 'fresh' in both composition and performance with all of the musicians being versatile, true improvisers and having a strong sense of groove, as well.

“These are the qualities that make you want to play,” he continued. “I’m so happy to have been a part of what lead to this record.”

Common Ground represents the latest addition to Ford and Evans’ creative repertoire, with the sax man saying the album’s contents are the result of the pair’s shared musical ideology and a testament to their chemistry.

“Every now and then, like-minded musicians are able to get together in the studio or on the same stage and create interesting music together,” Evans explained. “I believe myself and Robben share that same ideology. We both love all kinds of music whether it's classic blues, soul, rock 'n' roll, you name it. 

“This openness to combine different kinds of music and create something musical and special is what brought me and Robben together in the first place. Robben composed some of the most inspiring music I’ve played in a long time. Our writing styles blend seamlessly.”

Robben Ford and Bill Evans Common Ground album cover

(Image credit: Press)

Ford concurred, “It's always a great and sought-after pleasure to work with some of the best musicians in contemporary music, and making this record was for me one of those occasions. 

“We have, each of us, worked with one another in different configurations in the past, so, there is a comfort level in that. But more importantly, everyone involved is a dedicated musician whose first thought is to make the best music possible in any situation.”

When it arrives, Common Ground will be the pair’s second studio album together following the release of The Sun Room in 2019, which also featured Carlock on drums. Ford also guested on Evans’ 2002 album, Big Fun.

For Common Ground, Evans shared production duties with Clifford Carter, who also played piano and organ on the title track.

Check out the Common Ground tracklist below.

  1. Ever Ready Sunday
  2. Crabshaw Don't Care
  3. Sentimental Mood
  4. Hearts of Havana
  5. Common Ground
  6. Passaic
  7. Stanley
  8. Dennis Menace
  9. The Little Boxer

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.