Joe Ford was born on May 7, 1947 in Buffalo, New York and was singing in his mother and aunt’s family choir by age 5. At seven he started taking piano lessons and by the time he was eleven he started playing saxophone. In high school and college Joe played in a variety of campus jazz and funk bands.
Ford studied saxophone under Makanda Ken McIntyre, Jackie McLean and Frank Foster, and percussion under Joe Chambers. After graduating from Ohio’s Central State University He returned home to teach in the Buffalo public schools from 1968 to 1972. It was while working at the Buffalo Public Library in 1974 that Joe played in the Birthright Ensemble, and then would go on to join McCoy Tyner in 1976, recording eight albums with him through 1993.
Since the early 1980s Ford worked extensively as a sideman with Sam Jones, Lester Bowie, Jimmy Owens, Idris Muhammad, Abdullah Ibrahim, Chico O’Farrill, Avery Sharpe, Jerry Gonzalez, Malachi Thompson, Steve Berrios, Nova Bossa Nova and Freddy Cole amongst others.
In the late 1990s he led two ensembles, the Black Art Sax Quartet and a big band called The Thing. As a leader, saxophonist Joe Ford released his one album in 1993, “Today’s Night” on Blue Moon Records featuring Charles Fambrough, Kenny Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts. He continues to perform and tour.
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