There is no doubt we are living in very strange times indeed. The whole world has succumbed to a pandemic, and as for politics, let us just say I am incredibly glad to be living at the end of the world. But there are always people who look to make the best of a bad thing, and the album I am listening to is an example of just that. Stick Men (Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter) with very special guest Gary Husband (on keyboards) had just commenced a tour of Japan and China when the world turned upside down. With some time before their flights out of the country Husband and Reuter, along with producer Leonard Pavkovic, booked a studio in Tokyo and on 3rd March 2020 captured a moment unlike any other. While Husband will probably always be linked with the mighty Allan Holdsworth as his drummer for many years, he is also a jazz keyboard player held in high regard, and here he sat at the studio’s Fazoli Pianoforti grand piano and allowed his imagination to take flight. Many years of playing next to one of the world’s most celebrated improvisors has put him in good stead to work with Markus Reuter, who has expanded the normal guitarists repertoire by his use of live electronics and Touch Guitars® AU8.
The set was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, and anyone who thinks that improvised music is always unlistenable should hear this. Gary often takes the lead, although not always, but Markus is right there with him providing the support whether it is a few well-chosen picked notes on a guitar or some electronic backdrops for Gary to provide his magic against. It is languid, it is relaxing, and Gary has a deft control of the sustain pedal, allowing the piano’s notes to hang in the air and harmonize against each other. The two musicians may not have played with each other as much as they would have by the end of the tour, but due to each’s own personal musical journey they are able to interpret and react to what is happening in real time and adding to the overall feeling and never detracting. I wish I had been in the control room next to my old friend Leo, as I can imagine for the most part he was making minor tweaks to the sound and just sitting there with his eyes closed being transfixed by what was taking place. This is sheer beauty from start to end, and really is something magical. I am glad it was just the two of them, as if Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto had been there then I am sure it would have been special but there would have been a very different focus to the sound. Here we have the sound of water, sometimes babbling, sometimes a larger sea, but always in motion and never resting. This is music which transports the listener to a better time and place, where there is no pandemic, no death, no hate and while this plays it truly is a blessing.
Even before I started listening to this album, the omens were good. Firstly, the two improvisers recorded it in its entirety on my birthday, and then we have the title. For non-Brits, tor is a hill or rocky outcrop, while a vale is a valley, so they co-exist side by side and it is not possible to have one without the other. I grew up in South Devon, spent as much time as I could on Dartmoor where there is Hound Tor, Yes Tor, and so many others, and my parents named our house Haytor after one of the most well-known granite outcrops. Mark Wingfield has been making quite a name for himself in recent years with his stunning guitar albums, while Gary Husband will always be thought of for his long relationship with Allan Holdsworth, which started all the way back in 1979. Although Husband has always been primarily thought of as a drummer, he is also a very accomplished pianist and it is in that role he provides the counterpoint to Wingfield.
Some of the songs were written by Wingfield ahead of time, others were improvised on the spot, but this is all about two musicians playing call and response, listening to the other and instinctively reacting. Husband explained that the intuitive nature of this Tor & Vale session has been part of his modus operandi for years. “I actually have the infuriating habit of listening to initial instruction or some kind of plan, only to then completely disregard it and let instinct and intuition take over,” he said. “I love the conversational, instinctive process to make its own way and present itself through us.” The result is something quite magical, as two players intuit what the other is going to do before they even know it themselves, as they move and guide each other through a journey where not only is the destination not know, there is no map. This freedom can be paralyzing to some, but here there is no hesitation, no looking back, just always pushing onwards to a final result which is as yet unknown.
This is music without a net, no room to hide behind others, just two guys in a room with the red light on and concentrating intently on what each of them is doing and letting the music spirit guide them on the path. Intense, dramatic, powerful, this is a wonderful album in so many ways. Production is top-notch, as is everything that comes out of the Spanish La Casa Murada Studio, which has been a base for so much of Wingfield’s work. Yet another essential release from Moonjune.
MARK WINGFIELD guitar, soundscapes GARY HUSBAND acoustic piano
There was some magic that unfolded during this intimate session at La Casa Murada, a recording studio located in a 12th century farmhouse in Catalonia about an hour outside of Barcelona. Gracefully yet deliberately, the music emerged like a force of nature, winding and floating its way through the medieval building from fingers to strings to the pleasure centers of the brain. Credit the vibe of the unique room for creating the perfect ambiance in which this magic between Mark Wingfield and Gary Husband could take place. High ceilings, walls of stone and lots of natural light pouring in, it set the proper mood for this first-ever one-on-one encounter between the two countrymen. And credit producer Leonardo Pavkovic with having the rare intuition and foresight that this duo would indeed foster magic together in the studio.
Wingfield is the forward-thinking British electric guitarist whose impressionistic work over the past decade is reshaping the sound of his instrument. “Wingfield’s guitar playing is mysterious, majestic and blazing in turns,” wrote Guitar Player magazine while All About Jazz crowed, “Wingfield makes his guitar howl, sing and cry for mercy amid flickering single note runs” and Music That Matters simply called him a “six-string winged, improvising shaman.”
Fellow Brit Husband has long been revered as one of the greatest drummers on the scene for his fabled association, since 1979, with the late, legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth. A longtime doubler, he has also showcased his exceptional keyboard skills with his New Gary Husband Trio and Force Majeure, Billy Cobham’s Spectrum Band and John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension. Husband has also released two luminous solo piano recordings, The Things I See: Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworth and A Meeting Of Spirits: Interpretations of the Music of John McLaughlin.
For musical dreamers and ECM devotees, Tor & Vale answers the hypothetical question: “What if Terje Rypdal had recorded a duet album with Keith Jarrett?” A beautiful document that showcases the remarkable chemistry between these two extraordinary players, it is a gem of nuanced interaction and rare potency by improvisers of the highest order. “This recording captures and reflects the mutual enthusiasm and easy kind of compatibility we found with each other that was present at all times throughout the sessions in Spain,” noted Husband. “None of it felt forced or seemed to require a lot of effort at all. It just happened, just as you hear it.”
Added Wingfield, “As soon as we started playing it was clear that there was an instant musical connection there and a willingness to really open up and explore. With the composed pieces, we decided just before playing how we would structure it. We discussed who would solo first and where the melody would come back just based on how we felt it might work best, but with the proviso that if the music felt like it wanted to go somewhere else at any give point, we would follow that.
“I wanted to take an approach to the composed pieces where we were free to move in and out of or reinterpret the chord structure,” he continued. “Gary was of the same mind so we agreed to freely interpret what I’d written and even to depart completely from the chord progression if that felt right when we were improvising. As for the improvised pieces, there was nothing at all planned. We started the session with the composed pieces and things went so well
that by the time we got to the improvised pieces we felt there was no need to discuss how to approach them.”
While “Kittiwake,” “The Golden Thread,” “Night Song,” “Tryfan” and “Vaquita” were all compositions brought to the session by Wingfield, there was also plenty of room for stretching here. Check the last highly conversational minute of “The Golden Thread” to confirm that freedom-within-form principle. “Night Song,” likewise, is brimming with call-and-response exchanges and dramatic rubato exploration by the two kindred spirits.
The evocative 16-1/2-minute title track is a freely improvised excursion in the studio, the result of two intrepid improvisers being open to the moment. With a premium put on space, each note played during this uncharted interaction took on huge authority. And both Wingfield and Husband rose to the occasion with stirring statements that are full of conviction and throbbing with virtuosity (like Wingfield’s organic flurries of 32nd notes throughout) while remaining complementary to the flow.
“Shape of Light” is another improvised exploration that travels from an opening ambient soundscape to a gentle solo showcase for Husband’s piano at the 3-minute mark before resolving to a lovely, lyrical duet. “Tryfan” is a driving, dissonant number featuring some of Wingfield’s most potent six-string statements, underscored by Husband’s forceful comping. Picture a cross between Terje Rypdal and Robert Fripp and you’re getting the picture.
The third purely improvised piece, “Silver Sky,” is a spacious soundscape imbued with ambient swirls and patient statements by the two participants. Wingfield’s ‘howling, singing, crying’ guitar is in full effect here.
The guitarist’s thoughtfully composed closer, “Vaquita,” is infused with liquid whammy bar statements, furious 32nd-note fusillades and ambient echo washes. “Like most of the music I write, it started with a feeling or an atmosphere which I then translated into music,” he explained. “Sometimes these feelings or atmospheres are accompanied by images of places or scenes from people’s lives. Other times they are more of an emotional story of some kind with no particular image or scene in mind. ’Vaquita’ was more in this later category. For me, this one has quite a bit of momentum, as if you are being propelled through a story which travels up and down through the different events and feelings in the tale.”
Husband explained that the intuitive nature of this Tor & Vale session has been part of his modus operandi for years. “I actually have the infuriating habit of listening to initial instruction or some kind of plan, only to then completely disregard it and let instinct and intuition take over,” he said. “I love the conversational, instinctive process to make it’s own way and present itself through us.”
Wingfield explained his own modus operandi this way: “What I’ve been interested in for a long time is a type of free improvisation where rather than just playing completely ‘free’, you instead attempt to improvise as if there was something composed. Another way to explain this is to improvise as if you were composing a piece — line by line — in real time. Of course, it will sound improvised but it’s a radically different approach to playing free in the traditional sense.
“Gary is someone who is very at home with this idea too,” he continued. “Our wide range of common musical reference points meant that we were able to go on some extended improvised journeys. And he is such a great player. I knew his piano work so I knew he was able to go way outside the usual jazz improvised format and reference lots of different musical
worlds. So I knew there was a real potential to do something like this with him. But I had no idea beforehand that the session would go so well or that we would be able to communicate musically on the level we did.”
Wingfield also explained the title of his first-ever duo collaboration with Husband: “In the UK the word ‘tor’ often refers to a prominent hill with steep sides that stands out from the rest of the countryside. Some of these are natural but others are man-made and date back to the 7th century or possibly even back to the iron age. They had a significance for ancient people and are a significant sight on the landscape still. A ‘vale’ is, of course, a dip in the landscape. So for me, Tor & Vale represents a changing, undulating, twisting and turning landscape. Areas of the UK are particularly known for this kind of terrain. The track ‘Tryfan’ also refers to this. Tryfan is the name of a small mountain in Wales where there is a beautiful valley or vale right at the foot of it. There are also areas of the Peak District in England and elsewhere which fit this description. It’s the kind of landscape where you never know what you might find around the corner of a windy road. Some of the improvisations on this album made me think of these landscapes.
“Having said that, the music is not specifically about a landscape,” he continued. “For me, the places it goes are more varied — sometimes natural landscapes, sometimes urban, sometimes it’s more about a feeling or moment or something indescribable outside of music. That’s what I love about music: it can describe things we all know but which cannot be explained in words or images. So the landscape connection is an abstract one, but for me it was a name which fit.”
Following this MoonJune release, the formidable improvising duo is now considering the prospects of touring together in support of Tor & Vale. “I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Husband. “It would be pretty eventful, I feel, to build on this already existing simpatico and explore how and where it can all go.”
Gary Husband is frequenting lately very often the MoonJune Universe. The extraordinarily talented British drummer / pianist / keyboardist / composer is celebrated for his high level association with world class jazz, fusion and rock icons and legends such as Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce, Gary Moore, Robin Trower, Billy Cobham, and he is lately recording and performing with MoonJune Records recording artists such as Beledo, Dewa Budjana, Dusan Jevtovic, Mark Wingfield, Asaf Sirkis and Jason Smith. Gary Husband will appear for these second time in Japan as a very special guest with the British progressive jazz-rock institution Soft Machine, on July 28th and 29th in Tokyo and on July 31st in Osaka, with John Etheridge on guitar, Theo Travis on sax/flute, Roy Babbington on bass and John Marshall on drums. During the same visit to Japan, maestro Gary Husband will perform there solo concerts; in Yokohama on July 26th, in Osaka on July 30th and in Nagoya on August 1st.
“A Meeting Of Spirits In Japan Tour” is not only the promotion of Gary’s latest album on the English record label Edition, but also celebration of the music of John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth and his own music.
I am encouraging You to hear this truly amazing album, and buying on BandCamp You are supporting directly both the artist and his independent record label.
“A Meting Of Spirits” is available in CD and Download format on: www.garyhusbandmusic.bandcamp.com
CDs are £9.99 +shipping (shipped from UK)
Instant download is £8.20 (FLAC/WAV/ALAC, MP3-320 formats)
“A Meting Of Spirits” is released on Edition Records, UK: www.editionrecords.com
“Gary Husband is a musician of many talents – his instruments are piano, in-piano percussion, voice and bell – and has been at the forefront of the international jazz scene for many years. He is that rare breed: a musician equally fluent in expression, and internationally lauded, on two instruments, in this case, drums and keyboard. Even more singular is his ability to bring together the fruits of a career that have included classical training, improvisational versatility and long experience on the pop, rock, funk and blues circuits into a distinctive and influential musical personality.” – Grady Harp, Amazon
“A Meeting Of Spirits succeeds as an interpretational and at times, impressionistic representation of the music of McLaughlin, the undeniable maestro of jazz. It also serves as a timely reminder of the massive contribution that McLaughlin has made to music, whilst all the while Husband effortlessly exudes a prodigious talent of his own. – Roger Farbey, All About Jazz
“What’s most remarkable is how Husband’s own pieces mesh with McLaughlin’s, creating a common ground that reflects of a deeper understanding of McLaughlin’s vast vernacular, along with Husband’s own evolving language and virtuosic pianism. McLaughlin has never sounded so dark, so abstract or so contextually unfettered. But equally, Husband finds the line that threads through McLaughlin’s stylistically diverse career, making A Meeting of Spirits an innovative tribute that’s reverential but always speaks with its own voice.” – John Kelman, All About Jazz
Gary Husband has been at the forefront of the international jazz scene for many years. He is that rare breed: a musician equally fluent in expression, and internationally lauded, on two instruments, in this case, drums and keyboard. Even more singular is his ability to bring together the fruits of a career that have included classical training, improvisational versatility and long experience on the pop, rock, funk and blues circuits into a distinctive and influential musical personality.
Gary’s latest album, and his first for Edition, A Meeting of Spirits is an innovative re-interpretation of the music of legendary guitarist, bandleader and composer John McLaughlin that in many ways demonstrates the totality of Husband’s multifaceted talent. In “…dissecting, reforming and freshly presenting…” the music of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Husband – a long time collaborator with McLaughlin – pays personal and intimate homage to the iconic guitarist while showcasing his own highly distinctive creativity and personal expression.
And McLaughlin returns the compliment, summing up this beautiful work: “Gary Husband the pianist has long been overshadowed by Gary Husband the drummer. I can personally testify to it. However, here we have a recording which will probably achieve the reverse of what I just wrote. In addition, he has chosen to base this recording primarily on my own compositions. I am honoured. This is a recording that is full of surprises; and the fact that I have difficulty in recognizing one or two of my own compositions is only one of them! But Gary is no ordinary musician: full of invention and surprises, modulations and inversions of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic content abound.”
While the album is a tribute to McLaughlin’s music, it’s no slavish copy. As arranger and composer Michael Gibbs suggests: “I’m not sure that the word interpretations is the right one for these performances – they go so much further – not even close to what the industry calls covers – so individual are they.”
Gary’s now thirteen-year-long involvement with John McLaughlin (and the band The 4th Dimension) has sat alongside tenures with Billy Cobham (most recently in Cobham’s Spectrum 40 band), regular projects with Hamburg’s NDR Big Band, further touring or recording commitments with artists such as Lenny White, Didier Lockwood, Joachim Kuhn and Enrico Rava, in addition to activity in the legendary ground-breaking over three-decades-long association he shared with the late Allan Holdsworth. But despite these fruitful encounters, it’s with this personal and rewarding project that we are placed directly in touch with just how significantly – as an arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist – Gary Husband has evolved. Of this – the second of his two “Interpretations Of” piano albums – he says “I’m proudest, to date, of this album … actually of both these works.”
GARY HUSBAND performing with SOFT MACHINE in 2018
JULY 28 – Tokyo, Japan (Billboard Live) – 2 show (piano/keyboards)
JULY 29 – Tokyo, Japan (Billboard Live) – 2 show (piano/keyboards)
JULY 31 – Osaka, Japan (Billboard Live) – 2 show (piano/keyboards)
OCTOBER 16, Tue – Toronto, ON (Mod Club) – (drums)
OCTOBER 17, Wed – Buffalo, NY (The Tralf) – (drums)
OCTOBER 18, Thu – Cleveland, OH (Beachland Music Hall) – (drums)
OCTOBER 19, Fri – Indianapolis, IN (Irving Theater) – (drums)
OCTOBER 21, Sun – Chicago (Reggie’s, Progtober Fest) – (drums)
OCTOBER 22, Mon – Milwaukee, WI (Shank Hall) – (drums)
OCTOBER 23, Tue – St. Paul, MN (The Turf) – (drums)
Indonesian guitar legend of Balinese ethnic heritage and balinese Hindu faith – Dewa Budjana – marks his initial Favored Nations release in grandiose style, offering his most ambitious album to date, “Zentuary.” Supported by an all-star cast of enormous proportions – including jazz drums (and occasional pianist) legend, Jack DeJohnette (Miles Davis; over forty years on the ECM label), the iconic progressive bass and stickman, Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel; King Crimson; Stick Men), and the extraordinary superstar sideman talents of Britain’s Gary Husband (Allan Holdsworth; John McLaughlin; Billy Cobham; Jack Bruce) – Budjana offers a profusion of cross-cultural delicacies which tease, cajole, enthrall and, ultimately, satisfy listeners. Special guests include guitarist Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats; Steven Wilson; GPS), Tim Garland (Chick Corea; Bill Bruford), Danny Markovich (Marbin), Czech Symphony Orchestra and Indonesian flutist/vocalist Saat Syah and Indonesian singers Ubiet and Risa Saraswati.
Dewa Budjana, a veteran player whose 30 years career has already been marked by collaborations with a virtual “who’s who” of jazz, fusion and prog luminaries (Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta, Antonio Sanchez, Chad Wackerman, Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy Haslip, Dave Carpenter, Reggie Hamilton, Ben Williams, Joe Locke, Larry Goldings, Janis Siegel, Dwiki Dharmawan, Ron Thal Bamblefoot, Billy Sheehan, and many others), still manages to raise the stakes and elevate the level of his game on his fifth solo album.
Aside from his renowned skills on guitar, Zentuary documents Dewa Budjana’s position as one of the genre’s most prolific, accomplished composers and arrangers. The music on this 2-CD set is a magnanimous affair, where its highly skilled participants are given ample space to create and express. The net result is a soaring, synergistic mélange of brilliant, articulate instrumental progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion and world music. After 4 successful and critically acclaimed releases on MoonJune Records (“Dawai In Paradise”, 2013; “Joged Kahyangan” in 2013, “Surya Namaskar” in 2014″, and “Hasta Karma” in 2015) this is – under the auspices of MoonJune Music and MoonJune Asia – a Favored Nations debut of the Indonesian icon not to be missed!
ALBUM TO BE RELEASED WORLDWIDE ON 1OCTOBER 14, 2016 on Steve Vai’s FAVORED NATIONS label (distributed by RED) (2CD and Digital Distribution) except in Indonesia where album is released by deMajors Records (2CD) and Dewa Budjana / MoonJune Asia (HD Download).
Also available as 3 LP 180 grams gatefold vinyl limited edition released worldwide by Audio Anatomy (Poland).
Album available on Favored Nations in stores wordlwide and online, from October 14, 2016:
AMAZON USA: www.amazon.com/Zentuary-Dewa-Budjana/dp/B01KM1V47Y
AMAZON UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Zentuary-Dewa-Budjana/dp/B01KM1V47Y
AMAZON GERMANY: www.amazon.de/Zentuary-2CD-Budjana-Dewa/dp/B01KM1V47Y
AMAZON JAPAN: www.amazon.co.jp/Zentuary-Dewa-Budjana/dp/B01KM1V47Y
1. Dancing Tears 09:11
2. Solas PM 09:18
3. Lake Takengon 07:45
4. Suniakala 08:40
5. Dear Yulman 08:21
6. Crack In The Sky 07:36
1. Pancaroba 08:12
2. Manhattan Temple 10:00
9. Dedariku 10:45
10. Ujung Galuh 07:05
11. Uncle Jack 10:50
12. Zentuary 02:50
DEWA BUDJANA all guitars, soundscapes
TONY LEVIN electric upright NS Design bass (all tunes; except 6 on Disk One and 6 on Disk Two),
Chapman Stick (tune 6 on Disk One)
GARY HUSBAND drums (tunes 1, 2, 4 & 6 on Disk One; 1, 4 & 5 on Disk Two),
keyboards & acoustic piano (all tunes; except 5 & 6 on Disk Two)
JACK DEJOHNETTE drums (tunes 3 & 5 on Disk One; 2 & 3 on Disk Two),
acoustic piano (tune 5 on Disk 2)
DANNY MARKOVICH curved soprano sax (tune 2 on Disk One; 4 on Disk Two)
TIM GARLAND tenor sax (tune 2 on Disk Two)
GUTHRIE GOVAN guitar solo (tune 4 on Disk One)
SAAT SYAH custom made Indonesian suling flute (tune 6 on Disk One; 3 on Disk 2)
UBIET vocals (tune 3 on Disk One)
RISA SARASWATI vocals (tune 6 on Disk One)
CZECH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA conducted by Michaela Růžičková (tune 4 on Disk One; 6 on Disk Two)
(C) Museum Gitarku/MoonJune Asia (P) Favored Nations, 2016
All composition by Dewa Budjana (except ‘Crack In The Sky’ composed by Markus Reuter & Tony Levin).
Produced by Dewa Budjana for Museum Gitarku.
Associated producer Leonardo Pavkovic for MoonJune Asia.
Executive producer IGN Bagus Wijaya Santosa.
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