Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Michael Angelo Batio

Michael Angelo Batio (pronounced /bætio/) is an American virtuoso guitarist and columnist from Chicago, Illinois. He attended Northeastern Illinois University and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory and Composition. In 2003, Guitar One Magazine voted Batio the fastest guitar player of all time. MAB was also mentioned and listed recently in Guitar World Magazine in an article where he was listed as one of top 50 fastest guitarists in the world. The names were in alphabetical order, not by who they thought was the fastest.


Early years

Batio started playing the piano and composing music at the age of five, and first played guitar at the age of ten, reportedly playing faster than his teacher within two years. At the age of fourteen, he started playing jazz guitar, and within two years he had won the Chicago-based "All-State Jazz Solo Award". Angelo attended Northeastern Illinois University, and achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Theory and Composition. After he had graduated, Batio looked to become a session guitarist in his hometown. When he asked for a job at a nearby studio, he was given a piece of music and simply asked to play it. Naturally, Batio managed to play it and added in some of his own improvisations and fills, making him the studio's primary call-out guitarist.[3] As a session player, Batio recorded music for Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, United Airlines, United Way, McDonalds, Beatrice Corp., and the Chicago Wolves hockey team, among others.[4]

Holland (1984-1986)

MAB began his recording career in 1984 when he joined new Chicago-based heavy metal band Holland, an eponymous project set up by ex-Steppenwolf vocalist Tommy Holland. With major label Atlantic Records, the band released one studio album in 1985 entitled Little Monsters, which saw moderate success in the United States. Holland split up soon after, releasing a compilation of material from the Little Monsters sessions, Wake Up the Neighbourhood, in 1999, through Batio's label M.A.C.E..

Michael Angelo Band (1986-1989)

In 1986 Batio started his own eponymous band, which featured singer Michael Cordet, bassist Allen Hearn, and drummer Paul Cammarata. The MAB did not release any albums, but three of their songs appeared on the 1998 Nitro compilation Gunnin' for Glory.[5]

Nitro (1987-1993)

Batio joined glam metal singer Jim Gillette on his solo album Proud to Be Loud in 1987. The two metal stars, along with bassist T.J. Racer and drummer Bobby Rock subsequently founded the band Nitro. In 1989, Nitro released their first studio album, O.F.R., from which they released two singles: "Freight Train" and "Long Way From Home". The music video for "Freight Train", which received much airplay on MTV, was notable for having Batio on his now famous "Quad Guitar", on which he 'played' the guitar solo.

By 1992, Rock and Racer had been replaced by Johnny Thunder and Ralph Carter respectively, and it was in this year that they released their second (and final) studio album entitled Nitro II: H.W.D.W.S.. Included on the album was a cover of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever", which the band also recorded a music video for. The band split up soon after, but Batio was by now recognized as a very advanced guitar player, and this gave him the chance to progress through the business as a solo artist.

Solo (1993-present)

In April 1993, Batio founded his own record label, M.A.C.E. Music,[6] which became one of the first labels with a website in 1996. He used this label when he began recording his first album, No Boundaries, which he released in 1995 under the name Michael Angelo. In 1996, Batio released his cover album of classical Christmas music, Holiday Strings.

Batio's next studio release was Planet Gemini in 1997, which showed a very progressive, experimental side to Angelo's playing. In 1999, Batio released his first instructional video, Jam With Angelo, which came with his third studio album as a companion CD: Tradition. This was quickly followed by MAB's fourth full-length album in 2000, Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity, which was credited to himself and Rob Ross, the drummer. In 2003, Batio released his first DVD, the title release in his Speed Kills series, followed by the second, Speed Lives, in 2004. It was also in this year that Batio released a compilation album, Lucid Intervals and Moments of Clarity Part 2, which featured songs from Tradition and Lucid Intervals.

In 2005, MAB released his highly anticipated cover/tribute/studio album, Hands Without Shadows, which featured guest appearances from such musicians as Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge fame, and Rudy Sarzo of Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and Dio fame. In 2006, DVD Speed Kills 2 was released, in addition to the first in the new Hands Without Shadows DVD series, Performance. Batio's latest release came in 2007, when his first two albums - No Boundaries and Planet Gemini - were remixed and remastered with additional drums, for an album entitled 2 X Again; the title of a song from the first album. Angelo also released three DVDs in 2007: Speed Kills 3, 25 Jazz Progressions and MAB Jam Session.

Two DVDs are slated for release in 2008, one of which focuses on neo-classical techniques and concepts, and the other which will contain Batio's live performance at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center on July 9. Oneo f these DVDs is apparently to be entitled The Neoclassical Power Approach, according to the flyer for the aforementioned concert.

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