Recent five-song ep sees Ford returning to Sweetwater Studios following success of Jing Chi’s Supremo album in 2017

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 — Fort Wayne, IN — Despite his working in the studio continuously since the early seventies, no two Robben Ford albums sound alike — including his latest five-track ep, Made To Last, which was released in April. The new ep sees Ford exploring the depths of the Chicago blues sound, taking a sonic cue from giants such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Howlin’ Wolf and others. Recorded in a little over a day at Sweetwater Studios, the new songs feature sparse instrumentation — electric bass, drums, saxophone and Ford’s instantly recognizable blues guitar.

“I was itching to do something that was pared down and very blues oriented, and I was happy to do it at Sweetwater because I had a great time there with the Jing Chi project,” says Ford. “I went looking through my blues records and found two pieces of music that were both Lightnin’ Hopkins inspired: ‘Automobile Blues’ and ‘Good Times’. I also did a Little Walter tune called “Crazy for My Baby” which I have played before and was excited to record.”

Working once again with Sweetwater Senior Producer / Engineer Mark Hornsby, who also recorded most of Jing Chi’s album Supremo at Sweetwater last year, the whole idea for this record was to keep things sparse and groove oriented. Ford called on bassist Brian Allen, drummer Wes Little, tenor saxophonist Jeff Coffin, and rhythm guitarist Casey Wasner. The closing track of the ep, “The Champion”, is a trio instrumental featuring Sweetwater Studio’s own Nick D’Virgilio (drums) and Dave Martin (acoustic bass).

One instrument that was deliberately omitted on the ep was keyboards. Instead, Ford relied on Casey Wasner’s rhythm guitar: “Casey has been playing in my working band and he is a jack of all trades. He’s been a guitar tech, a stage manager, a monitor man, he even played drums for Keb’ Mo’ for many years. He’s multitalented and a great guy to have around,” Ford explains.

Chicago vibes in Fort Wayne

With almost a half-century of stage and studio experience under his belt, Ford knows what he likes: “I like a large room and a high ceiling, and Sweetwater absolutely fits that bill. There’s plenty of room for a grand piano, the bass player, me and my amp,” he says. “The drums were recorded in the booth, which is also a very good size.” Indeed, the drum booth worked well for the Jing Chi’s Supremo in which drummer Vinnie Colaiuta laid down rhythms for the exploratory, fusion-based recording. “Vinnie cut the Jing Chi record at Sweetwater with me, there is no one more finicky than that dude. He was more than happy there!”

For Ford, the studio experience is all about comfort and authenticity: “I like to have some room, and I like for the room to be a part of the sound,” he says. “I also like to be able to play my amplifier just as I would play it on a gig. These things are not necessarily readily available, even in great studios.” For the entire Made to Last recording, Ford ran a vintage ’53 Les Paul and a ’58 Les Paul reissue through his ‘go-to’ amp: a Dumbo Overdrive Special. To capture guitar tones — which Ford played ‘pedal-free’ save for a Colorsound Octivider he used on “Crazy for My Baby” because it sounded ‘wild and crazy’ — Hornsby relied on a Shure SM 57 dynamic and a Royer 121 ribbon microphone.

While his performances are very often close to perfection, Ford is constantly exploring sounds and tones to penetrate new boundaries: “I am at the stage where as soon as something sounds the way it is supposed to sound, I immediately want to change it. So I was working with Mark Hornsby to explore things a little bit. For instance, I might say, ‘put some distortion on the bass’ or ‘run the saxophone through an amplifier’. But all those things have been done before. For a lot of musicians like myself, and engineers like Mark, you work to refine your craft, perfect your sound and have it recorded a certain way. So sometimes when it comes to mixing, there you go! You’re kinda done.”

“It was very refreshing to work alongside Robben on this project, and also the Jing Chi project.” Hornsby said. “Working with this level of virtuoso musicians requires both focus and an open mind. We worked very hard to create a relaxing environment where Robben and his bandmates could comfortably explore both the Chicago blues for his Made to Last project, and fusion-based improvisation for Jing Chi.”

Jing Chi and the Art of Recording

In contrast to his Made to Last project, Ford’s fusion-based supergroup Jing Chi — which translates to ‘essence’ and ‘energy’ — was inspired by extended jam sessions among the band’s three highly accomplished members: Jimmy Haslip [Yellowjackets, Allan Holdsworth], on bass drummer Vinnie Colaiuta [Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck] on drums and Robben Ford [Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis] on guitar.

For Supremo, Ford drew his inspiration largely from his interest in vintage R&B film music, leaving plenty of room for he and his bandmates to color outside the lines during the sessions. Over the course of those sessions, Ford and company were joined by other top musicians including Coffin and Trumpet player Mike Haynes (Cage The Elephant, Brad Paisley). For the duration of the Supremo project, Ford’s band worked quickly and masterfully with Sweetwater Studio’s Hornsby at the helm.

Jing Chi session Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta echoed Ford’s exuberance on working at Sweetwater Studios for the making of the band’s latest album, Supremo — the band’s first album since 2004: “This whole place is like a self-contained ecosystem that’s amazing for musicians. I can show up, I can play my drums, they sound great, the recording sounds great, the people are great, and I’m happy.”

“The experience at Sweetwater Studios has been just incredible, five stars on every level,” Ford concludes. “I have never been more comfortable recording anywhere, anytime in my life.”

For more information on Made to Last, or to order a copy, please visit Sweetwater’s website at:

Photo credit: Erick Anderson


More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

More than 55 of the 2018 Fall Television and Streaming Series Rely on Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design today announced that the company’s production and post products were used to complete many of the fall 2018 season’s new and returning television shows and streaming series. More than 55 shows rely on Blackmagic Design’s digital film cameras; Fusion visual effects (VFX), compositing, 3D and motion graphics software; and DaVinci Resolve editing, color correction, VFX and digital audio software; as well as its switchers, routers, monitors and capture and playback devices.


Jingle All the Way: Luxul's XMS-1208P Managed Gigabit Switch is Available for All CI Integrators this Holiday Season

Luxul, the leading innovator of IP networking solutions for AV integrators, today announced that it's giving CI integrators the gift of enterprise-level performance at affordable price points this holiday season. It doesn't matter if they've been naughty or nice, the company's XMS-1208P 12-port/18 PoE+ managed Gigabit switch — that delivers high-speed performance while enabling simple network expansion — is now available for all. And to ring in the new year, Luxul will begin shipping its AMS-1816P 18-port/16 PoE+ L2/L3 managed Gigabit switch in early January.


HoverCam Transforms Classrooms Fit for Future-Ready Students at Val Verde USD

HoverCam, an innovative technology leader in the digital education market, announced that Val Verde Unified School District (USD) in Parris, California, successfully installed HoverCam's Pilot digital teaching stations and CenterStage interactive flat panels (IFPs) in new STEM labs in the elementary schools, with plans for an eventual rollout to the district's middle and high schools. As part of the district's goal to create future-ready students, Val Verde USD chose HoverCam digital education solutions to address the rising challenge of updating classrooms and introducing curriculum with advanced systems that will prepare students for a rapidly changing career landscape.


The Sigma Holiday Sale Is Back!

Nothing makes gift giving as enjoyable as special prices on award-winning Sigma lenses and accessories; get the lens you’ve always craved or surprise a fellow shooter with the perfect present.


Global News Agency Ruptly Relies on Riedel's MediorNet and Artist on Board New OB and DSNG Vehicles

Riedel's MediorNet real-time media network and Artist digital matrix intercom are providing the decentralized and redundant signal routing and communications backbone on board two all-new, state-of-the-art OB vehicles for Ruptly, a Berlin-based international news agency. Qvest Media, a world-leading system architect and integrator for the broadcast and media industries, designed and built the new broadcast van and DSNG vehicle.