Gary Husband is a musical renaissance man. A ferocious progressive-rock and jazz drummer, he also handles the keyboard duties here and for guitar titan, John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension band. This outing provides a glimpse of prominent artists he has performed with over the years. Subsequently, the program signifies the first time McLaughlin and guitarist Allan Holdsworth appear on the same album. Husband summons his comrades for a diverse program, teeming with copious angles, and variable degrees of intensity amid the largely memorable compositions.
With a balanced attack of ballads, ballsy excursions and killer riffing, the band members largely alternate into quartet and trio settings, spanning a broad scope of song-forms. For example, on “Between the Sheets of Music,” former Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman lashes out with an ominous blues-based schema via howling staccato lines atop Holdsworth textural phrasings. And Husband lays down a punchy backbeat during “Yesternow – Preview,” featuring a Hendrix-like Band of Gypsys vibe, accelerated by guitarist Robin Trower’s mind-bending wah-wah pedal phrasings.
McLaughlin whips matters into submission on “Dreams in Blue,” which is a frothy jazz-fusion work designed with soaring tension and release statements. Here, Husband overlays keyboards to complement his drumming and the band’s scathing aerial assault. Otherwise, inklings of drummer Billy Cobham’s classic jazz-fusion piece “Stratus,” briefly surfaces on Husband and bassist Mark King’s tight workout “Alverstone Jam.”
It appears that Husband intends on extending this game-plan into Volume 2, slated for a 2011 release. Based on the merits of this production, chock full of solid material and synergistic interplay, the follow-up should reveal more goodness from Husband’s luminous imagination and superior technical craftsmanship.