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Michael Landau Group : Live

Bubbling under the surface of known commodities in the guitar world for far too long, Los Angeles-based Michael Landau has been one of those robust and distinctive electric guitar stylists. When not making a living as a versatile studio musician who occasionally got gigs with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Landau has also quietly (and loudly) put his instrument through artful places in regional fusion-esque bands with names like Dog Cheese. Over the years, he has alternately been a cult hero, an underdog in guitar circles, a widely heard member of the session musician elite and a mid-career guitarist who has developed a sound worth hearing.

Landau’s new two-disc live encounter with his band, recorded at the Baked Potato-where fusion still has a home in L.A.-offers a solid introduction to his guitaring, composition and understated vocal style (his least developed skill, but it fits the bill of the singing guitar wizard). Joined by a cast of rotating musicians, including L.A. drummer Gary Novak, keyboardist Scott Kinsey and bassist Jimmy Johnson, Landau works out in various directions on mostly original compositions, swerving between raging jazz-flavored blues-rock (“Worried Life Blues,” “Underwear”) to atmospheric (“The Mighty SB,” “Untitled”).

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