Catching Up With Gary Husband
AAJ: You've cut two outstanding piano solo albums in the last decade, The Things I See: Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworth (Angel Air, 2001) and A Meeting of Spirits: Interpretations of the Music of John McLaughlin (Alternity Records, 2006), but on this album your synthesizer/keyboard skills really seem to have found a fuller, more nuanced voice than in the past. Do you feel that to the case?
4th Dimension, From left: Ranjit Barot, Etienne M'Bappé, John McLaughlin, Gary Husband
GH: Oh, I don't know. I'd like to think so. I'm growing constantly and with that I'm striving all the time to become more articulate, more fluid and affecting in the way that I play. It's the way of all improvising musicians, I would guess...I would hope!
AAJ: As on Vol 1 the great Jan Hammer graces Dirty and Beautiful Vol 2; how much of an influence has he been on you as a keyboard player?
GH: Jan's influence? Mammoth [laughs], you could say. You don't have to listen to him for very long to detect his deep Eastern European roots and his very distinct harmonic discipline. I would make the comparison to [pianist] Bill Evans whose harmonic discipline was so great. Jan's is probably more distinctly European but equally as disciplined. As a soloist his ideas are very unique and also very attached to early European folk music. When he came to the States and started playing with [singer] Sarah Vaughan and [drummer] Elvin Jones and others, you heard this New York spirit with an Eastern European discipline. What a merging; I've been a fan of Jan's since the early Elvin Jones recordings where he plays so wonderfully, and obviously the Mahavishnu [Orchestra] records too.
AAJ: There's another Jan Hammer composition on Vol 2 ("Rain"), as there was on Vol 1, yet ironically Hammer doesn't play on either of these tracks; was that a conscious decision not to ask him to play on these two tracks?
GH: No; actually, I didn't realize that until you just said it! There are obviously some really clear threads between these two records in ways such as exactly that. Unpredictable or what? Then again, I guess we also have the McLaughlin composition that John himself doesn't play on either [laughs].
AAJ: How much of the material on Dirty and Beautiful Vol 2 stems from the Vol 1 recording sessions from late 2009?
GH: "Sulley," the backing track for "England Green," and the "Fred 2011" take that we recorded in LA. I had these three or so left over, and I had no intention of letting them go to waste. Happily, Souvik [Dutta] at Abstract Logix suggested we should do a follow-up and keep this train moving while it's got this kind of momentum; he got no resistance out of me.
AAJ: You mentioned "England Green," which you first recorded on Diary of a Plastic Box (Angel Air, 1999), and this version seems really tailor-made for Jimmy Herring; was he an obvious choice for you on this track?
GH: Yes; I look at a composition like that and try to imagine who would be suited to interpreting it most. In this case the answer was very much Jimmy Herring, who has a spellbindingly emotional portrayal to his melodies. It's very touching and electrifying at the same time. It's important to me that the musicians like the track too, so I sent a demo to Jimmy and he instantly liked it. He could hear himself on it, and that's important for me. It was that way for the [guitarists] Alex Machacek track, the Mike Stern thing, the piece with Wayne Krantz, the Neil Taylor trackall of them. Also I like taking bold new chances, like putting [bassist] Mark King and John McLaughlin together for instance; I really enjoyed that.
AAJ: That track with King and McLaughlin really rips; they complement each other very well. Have you got material for a third volume of Dirty and Beautiful?
GH: I do have a lot of material that I never got around to recording yet. I'll always have new music, and there are indeed plenty of other people and friends I'd love to play with. I wouldn't want to do it just because of the success of Vol 1 or Vol 2 or whatever; I'd need to have a clear idea of a direction again. But if there is the chance and the fundswhich are not so easy to generate for recorded music of this type these daysthen I will do it for sure.
AAJ: You are touring again later this year with John McLaughlin's 4th Dimension, which now has Ranjit Barot on drums. That sounds very exciting.
GH: It is indeed. We did a big, summer European tour with Ranjit last year and, for me, the band works extremely well with him now. Just before Christmas we did the 4th Dimension's new album which should come out this autumn. I think it's a very strong recording.
AAJ: What else have you got in the pipeline?
GH: I'm looking at a project to reinterpret the music of [pianist] Bill Evans with piano, violin and celloa classical piano trio. Then there would be a couple of guest slots, including John McLaughlin who has very kindly offered to play a couple of tracks on acoustic guitar with us. We're having trouble finding a record company for that, and I have to get a good label for it. If we can manage that then we'll certainly do it. But this is going to be a tough task, it'll be writing on the scale of the interpretational albums I did of John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth's material, which were both really, really big writing works.