Ricky Ford: Yes or No

3 Mar

Ricky Ford

Ricky Ford's 1983 album: Future's Gold

Early birthday wishes to saxophonist Ricky Ford, who celebrates No. 57 on Friday (the birthday of another celebrated saxophonist).

It seems Ford has been often overlooked, whether because of the commonality of his name (not to be confused with the author Richard Ford) or the timing of his career. It certainly shouldn’t be because of the quantity or quality of his work, which is, respectively, voluminous and high.

You can look at who he’s played with for his references — starting with Mercer Ellington and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Charles Mingus, McCoy Tyner, Abdullah Ibrahim, etc. And you can look at the teaching he’s done — at Brandeis University, and most recently in the first few years of the new century in Turkey.

“I’ve no doubt that had he born 40 years earlier he might have been a principal soloist and arranger with one of the classic swing bands,” wrote Mark Gardner on the liner notes to Ricky Ford: Hot Brass.

He wasn’t of course, but he started as a teen playing in his native Boston’s clubs and continuing into today.

“I’ve never heard Ricky Ford play without feeling he meant it,” wrote J.R. Taylor on the liner notes to Ford’s 1979 album Manhattan Plaza. More than 30 years later, we’re guessing those words are still true.

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