While by no means an absolute, there's a strong case for great jazzers making great rockers: Larry Carlton
with Steely Dan
and Michael Jackson
; drummer Steve Gadd
with Eric Clapton
and Paul Simon
; and saxophonist Michael Brecker
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
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
, 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
's busy career as a sideman with Bonnie Raitt
, Bob Dylan
and Miles Davis
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
's busiest gig has been with the group he cofounded thirty years ago (Yellowjackets
), but the bassist has recorded with everyone from Ron Wood and Crosby, Stills & Nash to Bruce Hornsby
and Rod Stewart
. Drummer Gary Novak's cred has been established across genres with artists as diverse as Allan Holdsworth
, Rob Zombie, Alanis Morissette and Joe Locke
With a collective résumé this expansiveplaying 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
, 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 deliverynot one of his strongest points in his early days, but strengthening with agehas 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 solosas he does with frightening Mu-Tron'd speed on the powerful closing instrumental "Brothers," bolstered by Novak's thundering tomsit 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.
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).