Robben Ford & The Blue Line: In Concert

Robben Ford & The Blue Line: In Concert (1993)
Music Video Distribution
Cast: Robben Ford, Roscoe Beck, Tom Brechtlein
Extras: Biography

Continuing the "Ohne Filter" series of releases from Germany, Music Video Distributors is now offering the 1993 Robben Ford concert that was part of his European tour. Robben Ford is one of the few guitarists who successfully and continually manage to cross traditional Blues with modern day Jazz. His Fusion infused guitar play still oozes of B.B. King style licks, but also features blistering solo work through uncommon scales and measures. The one thing Robben Ford is most famous for however is his unique phrasing, a style that makes him instantly recognizable. You hear one bar of his solo play and you know it has to be Robben Ford.

Despite his cross-over compositions, Robben Ford has always remained a minimalist when it comes to arrangements and it can be witnessed no better than at a live show, like this one. Consisting of only a three-piece band with Robben on guitar, Roscoe Beck on bass and Tom Brechtlein on drums, their live shows are explosive displays of utter craftmanship and raw talent. Although Robben Ford may be the star of the show, there can be no question that "The Blue Line" is more than a background band. Roscoe and Tom are the backbone of everything Robben does and the interplay between the musicians is marvelously energetic and inspired. This is especially evident in moments when the band begins to improvise – which happens quite frequently during live shows as the band never lets itself getting tied down by what’s on the record. Ford frequently takes a liberal approach to his material during live shows with musical excursions that are an amazing display of the band’s versatility and skill.

The show on this DVD starts out with "The Brother", which is also the opening track from the band’s most current record at the time. It is an instrumental, powerful, rock-infused song with dramatic Blues soloing throughout that immediately dots all the Is and gives the audience a taste of what they can expect from this show. What follows is an assortment of tracks from the same album, played in perfection by this combo in front of an enthusiastic audience.

This DVD features the concert in a <$PS,fullframe> transfer that is well mastered. The image is clear and detailed and without flaws. Colors are strong and vibrant without bleeding. Even the strongly saturated stage lighting never creates any notable bleeding or noise, creating a wonderfully sharp and detailed image that looks rich in color. Blacks are also well-balanced, giving the image good visual depth. The compression has been handled very well and no compression artifacts are evident.

The DVD contains two audio tracks. The disc defaults to the <$PCM,PCM> stereo track, which is wonderfully powerful an direct. The second track boasts a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> mix that has somewhat more "bodied" quality with its engulfing sound field, placing you right in front of the stage. Both tracks are very well produced and certainly bring out the best of the show.

The DVD contains a few extras though they are mostly unrelated to Robben Ford or this concert. The only exception is Ford’s biography, which is available in a variety of languages. The other extras include an interview with the "Ohne Filter" producer, a list of all "Ohne Filter" concerts and a featurette about sound production in general.

"Robben Ford & The Blue Line: In Concert" is a wonderful release for every fan of the band and for every music enthusiast with a knack for superiorly played Blues and Jazz. Ford’s bebop-inflected play is truly inspiring and the energy the band gets across during the show is magnetic. Everyone who’s seen Robben Ford live before will not want to miss this DVD to relive the experience, no doubt. Get this disc, I tell you. You owe it to yourself!