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Live Reviews

Allan Holdsworth Trio: Gatineau, Canada

By Published: October 8, 2009
A look at Road Game's "Water on the Brain" provided an early feature for Johnson, a bassist who leads a true double life. Playing with singer/songwriter James Taylor for two decades, he can be as spare and simple as they come, mining groove with an attention to detail and the value of a single note. But here, with Holdsworth, he proved himself a virtuosic electric bassist with an uncanny ability to go deep-in- the gut in the low register, while coming close to flamenco bass at the higher end of his instrument. All this while he demonstrated the same attention to pulse and groove as he does with Taylor, only here the context was busier, demanding a different but not entirely dissimilar set of ears as he locked in with Husband on the pulsing "Gaslamp Blues," also from All Night Wrong.

Allan Holdsworth / Gary Husband

As for Husband? He's well-known in fusion and rock circles, touring these days with Cream legend , bassist Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce
and guitarist Robin Trower, but he's been demonstrating no shortage of pure jazz cred on his own albums, including the marvelous but overlooked Hotwired (Abstract Logix, 2009), with his post-Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
ian group, Drive. With Holdsworth it's often far more aggressive, but the same demands exist as in any improvising unit. Like Johnson, his ears are wide open, more often less obvious than in a humorous ending to "Material Real." As the musicians were allowing the music to fade to black, Holdsworth—in an uncharacteristically impish mood—let loose a brief phrase with a mischievous smile on his face; Husband, also grinning grinning, responded and brought the medley to a more definitive close. More impressive, and far subtler, was Husband's ability to find small rhythmic motifs during some of the evening's more atmospheric passages, occasionally grounding the ethereality but not sounding out of context.

But the real feature for Husband came in his extended solo near the end of "Letters of Marque," also from I.O.U.. In a stunning display of sheer technique and undeniable musicality, Husband constructed a solo filled with invention, as he mined rhythmic and melodic motifs for all they were worth, each one leading to another and establishing a dynamic ebb and flow that built to a climactic peak accompanied by the audience's screaming and whistling. It was but one of many such moments throughout the set, which ended all too soon, the group returning briefly for the hardest rocking tune of the night, "Red Alert," with Holdsworth pumping out dense power chords in an arrangement far harder-edged than the version on Blues for Tony.

Allan Holdsworth

With a nearly full house in an intimate and fine-sounding concert theater with a capacity for about 300 people, what was most obvious about this trio, musicianship aside, was the fun they were having. Before the show, Johnson reflected on the rigors of a road trip, with nobody to load their gear or drive the van—but that it was all worth it, to play with Holdsworth and Husband. Tiring, perhaps, but when they hit the stage the long trips and late nights disappeared, and the trio played as if their lives depended on it. There were lots of smiles going around, and while the trio with Wackerman is a fine one, there was a greater sense of relaxation with the present assembly, on and off the stage. Not necessarily better, just different, but clearly a trio that enjoys each other's company both musically and personally. Husband remarked, before the show, that sometimes when he's most tired he plays his best: if that's so, then he must have been very must be the case with Holdsworth and Johnson, as the trio delivered a performance that will be remembered by the Gatineau audience for a long time to come.

Photo Credits

Group Photo, Jimmy Johnson: John R. Fowler

Allan Holdsworth, Gary Husband: John Kelman

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