It's the soul that stands out.
Through the years I've known Jennifer Batten as (mainly) Michael Jackson's tour guitarist. I was in the stadium in Bucharest for the HIStory tour concert. Not to many people can stand next to Michael Jackson on stage and make a strong impression.
Yet again we're talking about the lady that also stood next to Les Paul and Jeff Beck and was never the sidekick but part of the main act.
This post was triggered by my experience last night at a music event I attended in Bucharest, Romania - Ziua Chitarelor (Guitars Day) which brought together Jennifer Batten, basist Stuart Hamm (who together with drummer Mike Vanderhule deserve a statue for their marathon last night supporting all the guitarist without knowing the songs in advance), guitarists Andreas Oberg, Dave Martone, Michael Lee Firkins, Damjan Pajcinoski and Dragianni.
I went there as a Michael Jackson fan wanting to say thank you to Jennifer for being part of the magic and also because it was Michael and his passion for music that allowed me to discover my own. I also went there as a guitar addict (I picked up a guitar when I was 5 and ever since I kept on playing - I'm not a guitar player but just someone who enjoys the sound and the feel of it and plays for amusement and to shake off the bad ) and someone who cannot imagine life without music.
And I went there wanting to experience live the Two Hands Rock approach - the wonderful tapping and hear without an intermediary the sounds of Jennifer's guitar.
She took the stage for a master class and a short show but she rocked the house. What stands out is how "clean" and natural, unaltered the guitar sounds when she plays. Not a single note is forced.
On her own or sharing the stage with the others she is always leading in an powerful but not aggressive way.
Songs by Michael, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix as well as songs of her own - whatever she played was high quality rock filled with soul - that music soul that people can recognize by feel.
It's hard to describe in words the connection and the experience of it all but the energy and the joy I got from the day I'll carry inside with me.
I love Jennifer for the guitar hero that she is (about that - next to me sat a group of teenage boys, talking about band rehearsals asking themselves and me when will Jennifer be on again after her master class) and for the person that she is.
She never developed a complex from being called as Michael Jackson guitarist and she is still now, she made herself available to the fans, and she is a musician who never stopped being herself, never stopped sharing her passion for music with the audience. She is one of the greatest guitarist of all time and by default she broke down barriers by showing the guys how to rock.
Thank you Jennifer ! It was magic.
Jennifer Batten on Twitter