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Michael Landau / Robben Ford / Jimmy Haslip / Gary Novak: Renegade Creation (2010)

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Michael Landau / Robben Ford / Jimmy Haslip / Gary Novak: Renegade Creation How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

While by no means an absolute, there's a strong case for great jazzers making great rockers: Larry Carlton
Larry Carlton
Larry Carlton
b.1948
guitar
with Steely Dan
Steely Dan
Steely Dan
b.1972
band/orchestra
and Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
1958 - 2009
vocalist
; drummer Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd
b.1945
drums
with Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
b.1945
guitar
and Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Simon
b.1941
composer/conductor
; and saxophonist Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
with Billy Joel and Blue Oyster Cult. Renegade Creation's four artists may possesses a broader jazz vernacular, but it's all in service of the grit and grease of an unequivocal rock record, from the Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley
1928 - 2008
guitar
beat of "What's Up" and slow grind of "Destiny Over Me," to the visceral blues-rock of "The Darkness" and "Who Do You Think You Are."

Better-known for the artists he's played with, including James Taylor Quartet
James Taylor Quartet
James Taylor Quartet

organ, Hammond B3
, Jennifer Warnes and Aaron Neville) than his own, relatively diminutive discography as a leader, guitarist Michael Landau's Live (Tone Center, 2006) was a potent mix of hard-edged blues-rock and even more pyrotechnic fusion. With his bigger name as a leader, guitarist Robben Ford
Robben Ford
Robben Ford
b.1951
guitar
's busy career as a sideman with Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt

guitar, slide
, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
b.1941
composer/conductor
and Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
has informed the power blues of albums including his recent Soul on Ten (Concord, 2009) and Larry Carlton's Live in Tokyo (335 Record, 2007). Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
Jimmy Haslip
b.1951
bass, electric
's busiest gig has been with the group he cofounded thirty years ago (Yellowjackets
Yellowjackets
Yellowjackets

band/orchestra
), but the bassist has recorded with everyone from Ron Wood and Crosby, Stills & Nash to Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
b.1954
piano
and Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
b.1945
vocalist
. Drummer Gary Novak's cred has been established across genres with artists as diverse as Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
b.1948
guitar
, Rob Zombie, Alanis Morissette and Joe Locke
Joe Locke
Joe Locke
b.1959
vibraphone
.

With a collective résumé this expansive—playing everything from in-the-tradition jazz to pedal-to-the-metal rock with absolute authenticity— it's hard for Renegade Creation to miss. Fans of Jing Chi—Haslip's power trio with Ford and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
b.1956
drums
, last heard on 3D (Tone Center, 2004)—will find plenty to like with Renegade Creation's rockier disposition, though the emphasis here is on songs, with Ford and Landau splitting lead vocal duties on eight of its eleven original tracks. Landau possesses a hint of Mark Knopfler's lazy delivery, especially on "Where the Wind Blows," while Ford's cleaner voice and more melodic delivery—not one of his strongest points in his early days, but strengthening with age—has rarely sounded better.

Both guitarists combine pure rock 'n roll cred with greater sophistication, proving the two can coexist on tracks like Ford's "Soft in Black Jeans," where overdriven, Hendrix-ian guitars mesh with shimmering acoustics and a hint of indie rock, all with a series of chord voicings far beyond power chords and simplistic harmonies. Renegade Creation largely focuses on Landau and Ford's solo prowess and tasty tones, but when Haslip solos—as he does with frightening Mu-Tron'd speed on the powerful closing instrumental "Brothers," bolstered by Novak's thundering toms—it becomes an instant highlight.

High octane, and unapologetic in its raw, blues-centric rock stance, Renegade Creation couldn't have been made by anyone but musicians who possess broader backgrounds. But there's nothing but street cred in this exhilarating debut, from a group whose live performances will, no doubt, be absolutely incendiary.


Track Listing: What's Up; Soft in Black Jeans; God and Rock 'n Roll; The Darkness; Renegade Destruction; Peace Intro; Peace; Who Do You Think You Are; Where the Wind Blows; Brothers.

Personnel: Michael Landau: guitars, lead vocals (1, 3, 6, 10); Robben Ford: guitars, lead vocals (2, 4, 5, 9); Jimmy Haslip: bass guitars; Gary Novak: drums, bass (11); Dustin Boyer: background vocals, vocal (3).

Record Label: Tone Center


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