Live Review: Mike Landau with The Jazz Ministry at The Baked Potato Print
Tuesday, 27 February 2007 20:23

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I have been a huge Mike Landau fan since 1992. Being an East Coast guy, I have never had the chance to see him play in a club setting. After a long day at NAMM followed by dinner, my Guitar Jam Daily partner, Nick Friese, and I drove an hour to catch the 11:30pm show at The Baked Potato in North Hollywood.

The show was billed as “The Jazz Ministry.” The band was Abe Laboriel on bass, Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums, Greg Mathieson on keyboard and, of course, Mr. Landau on guitar. The show consisted of a handful of tunes, each featuring extended jams with all four artists.

In the middle of the show the band took a short break to allow Abe Sr. to minister to the crowd about gratitude, a Godly perspective and a heartfelt appreciation for the audience. I have had the privilege to hang out with Abe Sr. in the past and I must say that he is truly a holy man filled with God’s spirit both in his music and in his being. He is one of life’s true rare gems.

As the show progressed, I got the sense that we were all in the presence of true greatness. All four musicians seemed to be totally in the zone with an indescribable synergy.

Mike’s playing was very dynamic, versatile and pretty much perfect. Even though he has extraordinary ability with his hands, he only displayed his chops when the tune or emotion called for it. Musically, he seems to always be in the right place at the right time with the right notes or the right space. Mike used one of his prized Fender Strats and a Gibson SG. He used a Custom Audio Electronics amp with a host of pedals and a Lexicon digital reverb. His guitar tones ranged from smooth to sweet to raging with countless textures in between. Another amazing thing about his tone, is that even though I was only five feet away and he was turned up pretty loud, I never cringed from loudness, harshness, or ill sonic artifacts.

The band’s grooves were all top shelf courtesy of Abe Jr. In addition, his interaction, fills, and solos were jaw dropping. The guy is so loose when he plays that is it as much fun to watch him play, as it is to listen to him.

Abe Sr. did a handful of solos that covered a range of techniques, and built up in awesome intensity. When he gets going, his entire body becomes a rhythmic display in it’s own right. In all his bouncing around and movement, his bass headstock never makes contact with any nearby band mates or up close audience members. You have to see it to believe it.

Greg Mathison’s organ and keyboard parts were perfect layers of sound for the other 3 players. And when it was time for Greg to solo, you were left speechless.

On the final song, Abe Sr. and Abe Jr. pulled off this musical interaction that could only happen between a father and son. Nick and I, and a few other guys that I spoke with all agreed that we had not seen interaction like that very much in our lives.

I felt truly blessed to experience The Jazz Ministry. After the show, I got a few hugs from Abe Sr., and he introduced me to Mike. He was extremely gracious and agreed to do an upcoming interview with me for Guitar Jam Daily. In addition, he is sending one of our staff his latest Live CD for us to review.

In my humble opinion, I believe that Mike Landau is without a doubt one of the best living electric guitarists on the planet.