Gary Husband: Dirty & Beautiful Volume 1 (2010)
If for nothing elseand there are plenty of other reasons, to be sureDirty & Beautiful is notable as the album that reunites McLaughlin with Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer and violinist Jerry Goodman. That the three don't actually play together becomes irrelevant, as each turns in a stunning performance, from Hammer's guitaristic synth work on Holdsworth's potent opener, "Leave 'Em On," a longtime live staple for the guitarist's trio with Husband and bassist Jimmy Johnson, to McLaughlin's extended fireworks on Husband's "Dreams in Blue," the album's longest track at over ten minutes that, in addition to Husband's effervescent kit work, features a set-defining piano solo. Goodman's equally incendiary performance on the greasier "Between the Sheets of Music" also comes close to being an early set-stealer; an old Hammer tune on which the keyboardist doesn't play, leaving it to Goodman, Husband, Holdsworth and Johnson. It's been decades since the first Mahavishnu Orchestra imploded, but every one of these players has never sounded better.
Elsewhere, Husband engages in some bluesy, Jimi Hendrix-ian psychedelic jamming on a retro look at Miles Davis' riff-based "Yesternow," courtesy of Trower, while ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett turns in a surprisingly fusion-esque performance on drummer's laidback "Moon Song," and Level 42 bassist Mark King brings out the funk on the closing "Alverstone Jam."
Throughout, Husband is a multiple threat: a drummer capable of laying a meaty groove while, at the same time, ratcheting up the energy level with his interpretive interaction; a keyboardist who delivers finely honed melodism as much as expansively textured landscapes; and a broad-reaching writer, from the Joe Zawinul-esque "Bedford Falls" to the brooding "Boulevard Baloneyo," an alternate version of which is included as a bonus track on the Japanese edition. The debut of Husband's post-bop Drive, on Hotwired (Abstract Logix, 2009), may have been tragically overlooked, but the all-star cast and fusion leanings of Dirty & Beautiful Volume 1 should push Husband up into radar range, and hopefully lead to the second volume promised by its title.
Track Listing: Leave 'Em On; Bedford Falls; Between the Sheets of Music; Yesternow (Preview); Afterglow; Dreams in Blue; Ternerg Jam; Moon Song; Swell; The Maverick; Boulevard Baloneyo; Alverstone Jam; Boulevard Baloneyo (Alternate Take, Japanese Edition Only Bonus Track).
Personnel: Gary Husband: drums (1-3, 6, 7, 10-13), organ (1), synthesizer (1), keyboards (5-9, 12); Allan Holdsworth: guitar (1, 3, 11, 13); Jan Hammer: keyboards (1); Jimmy Johnson: bass (1, 3, 6, 7, 11, 13); Laurence Cottle: bass (2, 8); Jerry Goodman: violin (3); Robin Trower: guitar (4); Livingstone Brown: bass (4); John McLaughlin: guitar (6); Steve Hackett: guitar (8); Steve Topping: guitar (10); Steve Price: bass (10); Mark King: bass (12).
Record Label: Abstract Logix
Style: Beyond Jazz