Gary Husband

Dirty and Beautiful, Vol. 2

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Rather than releasing a double album, keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband split the jazz fusion songs he recorded with high-profile guests into two separate but equal hour-long discs. It's a logical, economically feasible way to get this music out and probably makes for a better overall listening experience, too, since the sound can get wearing, even over the length of a single platter. Anyone who enjoyed the first volume from 2011 will find the same pleasures here as Husband invites mostly guitar-shredding guests such as Mike Stern, John McLaughlin, Wayne Krantz, Robin Trower, Jimmy Herring, and old pal Allan Holdsworth, among others, for a good, old-fashioned '80s fusion fest. As is typical of the genre, the line between noodling and edgy improvisation can get awfully thin and there are moments that alternate on either side of that divide. That's the case within the confines of some songs such as the ten-minute John McLaughlin extravaganza "Sulley" that goes through multiple tempo changes, winding through its extended playing time with some terrific guitar soloing and some that just meanders. Props to bassist Mark King, whose husky yet malleable playing on the track holds down the rhythm and keeps the song vital even when the leads wander. Trower's Hendrix-inspired bluesy reverb on Miles Davis' "Yesternow-Epilogue" fades in where the first set's "Yesternow-Prologue" left off in a performance that blurs the border between rock and jazz. The energized nature of the disc is tempered on a short and lovely reading of Jan Hammer's "Rain." Hammer doesn't contribute to the track, but he does appear on Holdsworth's "Fred 2011," letting Husband -- who plays both drums and keyboards on eight of the eleven cuts -- concentrate on percussion. A similar dynamic applies to John McLaughlin's "New Blues, Old Bruise," where the guitarist is M.I.A. Rather, tenor saxist Sean Freeman, whose playing is strongly influenced by Wayne Shorter, gets free reign to strut his impressive stuff, which shifts from lovely to jagged as he blows his way through the ten-minute jam. Despite the obviously overdubbed nature of Husband's double-duty instrumental work, this album, and the previous one, sounds remarkably organic. That's especially true of the funky "East River Jam" featuring a relatively dialed down Wayne Krantz, whose innovative solos seldom go where you think they will. It adds up to a tasty, if somewhat inconsistent project that will please fans of both the old-school jazz fusion genre and of the prestigious musicians who help Husband bring it home.

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