Gary Husband: Dirty & Beautiful Volume 1 (2010)

dirty & beautiful volume 1 album coverMaybe you’ve never heard of Gary Husband before, so the cover wisely advertises an impressive guest list: John McLaughlin, Steve Hackett, Allan Holdsworth, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goldman. You’ve heard of these guys, maybe even carried a torch for a couple of them (in which case, you may already have met Mr. H on sundry Holdsworth or Level 42 albums). So Husband gets in on their graces, this despite the lackluster title and low-key packaging, and before you know it your fusion buttons are getting pushed in all the right places. Gary Husband, it turns out, is no mere jazz drummer but a double threat (drums/keyboards) and a solid composer to boot. Now, in this world there is no shortage of unremarkable jazz players making remarkable music, which is where I expected to file this album. But Dirty & Beautiful Volume 1 is so much better than that, better than a lot of the fusion that still slips out into the 21st century fringes. I probably don’t need to tell you that the tracks with Holdsworth (actually a holdover from his recent live shows), McLaughlin and Hackett deliver the goods. And we can all agree that a one-minute track with Robin Trower in a Hendrix-styled power trio setting is a cruel tease. What surprised me is that those names on the righthand side that drew me in here aren’t the real draw; it’s Husband himself. Tracks like “Ternberg Jam” (dalek acid chatter, I wrote in my original notes), “Swell” and “Afterglow” are winners, despite featuring only Husband and (on Ternberg) bassist Jimmy Johnson. The remaining tracks are equally interesting, from the weirdly wound groove of Steve Topping’s “The Maverick” to an old Hammer song (“Between The Sheets of Music”) featuring Jerry Goodman on electric violin. Given the different players involved, Dirty & Beautiful is an eclectic offering, which reveals Husband to be not only multi-talented but multi-faceted. Honestly, I enjoyed this disc more than a lot of latter-day efforts from the masters, since at this stage you pretty much know what to expect from a Holdsworth, McLaughlin, Corea, Cobham, etc. With all the different pairings, this disc smartly samples Husband’s journey through jazz fusion and is richer for the fact that Husband has never been a one band man.

The Songs
1. Leave ‘Em On (Allan Holdsworth)
2. Bedford Falls
3. Between The Sheets of Music (Jan Hammer/Anthony Smith)
4. Yesternow-Preview (Miles Davis)
5. Afterglow
6. Dreams In Blue
7. Ternberg Jam
8. Moon Song
9. Swell
10. The Maverick (Steve Topping)
11. Boulevard Baloneyo
12. Alverstone Jam (Mark King/Gary Husband)

Songs written by Gary Husband unless noted.

The Players
Gary Husband (keyboards, drums) with Livingstone Brown (bass on 4), Laurence Cottle (bass on 2/8), Jerry Goodman (violin on 3), Steve Hackett (guitar on 8), Jan Hammer (keyboards on 1), Allan Holdsworth (guitar), Jimmy Johnson (bass), Mark King (bass on 12), John McLaughlin (guitar on 6), Steve Price (bass on 10), Steve Topping (guitar on 10), Robin Trower (guitar on 4). Produced by Gary Husband; engineered by Robert Fiest, Marcus Wippersberg, Philip Bagenal, Samuel Navel; executive producer: Souvik Dutta.

The Pictures
Artwork design & photography by Troo Heath-Crew. Artwork production by Amol Tikam at Abstract Logix.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc on November 16, 2010 in the US (Abstract Logix, ABLX 027).

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