Gary Husband: Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
Gary Husband (piano)
A Meeting of Spirits: Interpretations of the Music of John McLaughlin (Alternity ATY 0601)
Gary Husband (piano).
Composed by John McLaughlin.
Recorded: London, November 2005
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Mr. Husband can easily shift from playing with a fusion band, to a progressive jazz unit, to a big band, to a rock group or to accompany a vocalist. The question is with what instrument will he shift? In jazz-rock and progressive circles, he is known as a powerful drummer with the energy and chops to propel Allan Holdsworth to new heights and provide the "oomph!" for Level 42. But more and more, we are discovering the wondrous gifts he has to offer on the keyboard. He has played keys for various Billy Cobham bands and, as I write this, held down the bench in a recent John McLaughlin 4th Dimension tour. Despite this exposure, he is still known primarily as a drummer.
A Meeting of Spirits is not Husband's first solo piano tribute. His previous effort, a tribute to the music of Allan Holdsworth called The Things I See, was very well received. This gave him the impetus and confidence to do the same with McLaughlin's vast and diverse catalog. Husband is not a typical interpreter. In some cases on this album, he only alludes to the original composition. It is up to McLaughlin fans to infer from whence Husband's thoughts are coming. They are there for those who dig down deep. Each time I hear the CD, I find traces of another quote. Listeners not familiar with McLaughlin's work will hear a brilliant improvisational performance regardless. Husband's reach into McLaughlin's pumpkin is seeds and all. It is not unusual to hear Husband take a lesser-known McLaughlin riff, mix it with his own creation, add salt and bake, boil or fry. Since McLaughlin's tunes are the antithesis of standard recipes to begin with, this makes for some very unusual eating.
"Celestial Terrestrial Commuters" is actually one of the more recognizable tributes on the CD. Husband opens this piece, made famous by McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, with a roly-poly chordal statement. Soon he is off and running away with the melody. A prerecorded or overdubbed track or two accompany him. One track is of Gary, in drummer mode, aggressively tapping out the tune's rhythm on the piano's wood. At the break, his playing goes lush and cosmic. He returns and brilliantly continues to divulge the secret ingredients of the piece. To avoid overcooking – a real danger – he stirs or flips the tune over. Eventually he verbally counts off the beats to song's end. If I were John McLaughlin, this is the guy I would want interpreting me. The next time Husband tours with McLaughlin, he should be given a few minutes of solo time to play some of this stuff. The audience would eat it up!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky