Michael Landau, Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip, and Gary Novak

Renegade Creation
Shrapnel Records
Michael Landau, Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip, and Gary Novak

Michael Landau, Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip, and Gary NovakWhen four musicians the caliber of these get together, you always hope for the best, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Here, however, it does. Michael Landau and Robben Ford supply most of the music, vocals, and the guitar, while Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak form an amazing rhythm section. No one dominates, and each player contributes beautifully without overkill.

Landau wrote and sings several of the songs, and they display his affinity for rock and Jimi Hendrix; “What’s Up” is a riff-based tune that gives ample room for soloing. His vocals bring to mind Mark Knopfler, with a bit more gruffness. Ford contributes great cuts like “Soft in Black Jeans,” a hip rock tune with big electric guitars and quiet acoustic. In fact, the entire record is an incredible display of dynamics.

It’s easy to distinguish the solos; Landau’s lean more to the rock-androll/ Strat side, with the Hendrix influence and other elements, while Ford’s familiar big, brassy sound is intact and his always-interesting choice of notes is evident. And both supply wonderful support for the other. When they interact, there’s an obvious mutual respect.

With hints of jazz, this is clearly rock and roll on a fine record that stands on its own merit, regardless of the “cast.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s Jul. ’08 issue.  All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine.  Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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