Fusion isn't as plentiful as it was back in the 1970s, which was the golden age of fusion just as the '30s and early '40s were the golden age of swing and the mid- to late '40s and '50s were the golden age of bop. But noteworthy fusion can still be found if you know where to look for it, and Gary Husband's Dirty and Beautiful, Vol. 1 is an example of noteworthy 21st century fusion. An impressive cast of fusion icons joins the British keyboardist/drummer/composer on this 2010 release, including guitarists Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin and keyboardist Jan Hammer; guitarist Robin Trower, who is best known for hard rock and blues-rock, is also on board. With such a cast, one would expect five-star results. But Dirty and Beautiful, Vol. 1 falls short of exceptional, although it's still an enjoyable, solid outing as well as a fairly diverse one. This 51-minute CD, which is dominated by Husband's original material, has its more aggressive moments (including "Ternberg Jam" and "Dreams in Blue"), but many of the tunes are on the reflective, contemplative side; that is certainly true of "Bedford Falls," "Afterglow," "The Maverick," "Averstone Jam," and the mysterious "Boulevard Baloneyo." And Husband reminds listeners that quality fusion, like quality bop, quality Dixieland, or quality swing, isn't just about pyrotechnics -- which is why there is a lot of lyricism on this album to go with all the chops and technical proficiency. Fusion enthusiasts will appreciate the amount of nuance that Husband and his soloists bring to Dirty and Beautiful, Vol. 1.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson