Gary Husband's Force Majeure: Live at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
“ ...this lavish two-DVD set, with a bevy of extra features, should--if there's any justice--" bring Husband's inestimable talents to a broader audience. ”
Gary Husband's Force Majeure
Live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
RSJ Groove Productions RSJFM007DVD
Perhaps best known to fusion fans as the drummer behind guitarist Allan Holdsworth, one of the most distinctive musical voices of the past 30+ years, Gary Husband remains something of a secret as a pianist and composer in his own right. And yet, on albums including The Things I See: Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworthwhere Husband delivers an evocative homage by using Holdsworth compositions as jumping-off points for a number of inventive and heartfelt solo piano piecesHusband shows that not only is he an outstanding pianist, but one with a broad stylistic reach that goes far beyond the purview of the fusion genre to which he and Holdsworth have commonly been associated. On his album Aspire Husband demonstrates a rich knowledge of more traditional jazz formscovering standards including "Willow Weep For Me" and "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise"placed beside the more advanced harmonic flow and through-composed conception of his own pieces.
And so, when Husband was granted a commission by Britain's Creative Music Network (CMN), which has been responsible for bringing all manner of off-the-beaten-path collaborations to British audiences, he was given the opportunity to put together something of a dream band. The resulting tour, and the DVD that documents it, continue to demonstrate Husband's strengths as composer, performer and bandleader. But even more, it shows Husband's ability to conceive longer-form pieces, suites that cover a wide range of emotions and stylistic concerns.
With a truly electric rhythm section that included Jim Beard on various keyboards, Matthew Garrison on electric bass, Arto Tunçboyaciyan on percussion and voice, and Husband himself on drums and piano, Husband had the foundation for an ensemble capable of everything from subtle elegance to greater power and a fusion-like sensibility that managed to avoid the trappings of excess so often associated with the genre. With a front line comprised of Jerry Goodman on violin, Randy Brecker on trumpet and Elliott Mason on trombone and bass trumpet, Husband had enough texture and power to handle the broad dynamic scope of the music he had in mind.
And so, with Live at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, long-time fans and newcomers alike have the opportunity to experience two full sets with Gary Husband's Force Majeure. Beautifully recorded and edited in collaboration with Steve Bingle of RSJ Groove Productions, this lavish two-DVD set, with a bevy of extra features, shouldif there's any justicebring Husband's inestimable talents to a broader audience.
For the evening, Husband uses two specific themes. The first set revolves around three extended pieces that Husband wrote as evocations of artists significant in his lifeBurt Bacharach, Björk and John McLaughlin. That Goodman, Garrison and Beard have all played with McLaughlin at different times over the years, make Husband's piece for McLaughlin particularly serendipitous.
But while the spirit of each of Husband's sources hover above the compositions, it's Husband's own compositional voice that comes through clearly. Alternating between piano and drums, as well as stepping out to conduct the group at various times, Husband has his hands full. And yet musical transitions flow seamlessly, with Husband's shifting duties appearing almost like sleight of hand.
The second set is based on the theme of architecture, with a five-part suite that ranges from the 12/8 shuffle of "Final Curtain" to the visceral 7/4 groove of the solo section to "Wings Over City Square." Each movement, with its shifting musical images, is almost like a miniature suite in itself, giving the larger whole a broader complexion.
Most remarkable about Husband's compositions is how they manage to combine strict structure with open-ended improvisation. There are points in the evening where it feels like purely free improvisation, but the way the ensemble emerges into more form-based passages belies a deeper compositional complexity.
And yet, as complex as Husband's pieces areand odd meters aside, just the number of mood shifts in most pieces would be enough to send many a skilled musician running for coverand as abstract as his thematic conception can sometimes be, the music manages to have a centre that makes it compelling from start to finish.