Among a number of rather startling virtues in Dirty & Beautiful, Vol. 1 by rising fusion skinsman Gary Husband is the almost beatific fact that Jan Hammer is back in his old pre-Miami Vice form…just for a single track, true, but breathtaking in its chopsmanship harking to the old Mahavishnu Orchestra / Billy Cobham / John Abercrombie era when the guy was hands-down one of the absolute best there was. However, if one cut isn't enough, let me add that Husband likewise plies keyboards with a fluency somewhere between the esteemed Hammer, Robin Lumley, and Manfred Mann. Then there's the CD's smorgasbord of sit-ins: John McLaughlin, Robin Trower, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Hackett, and others. With that, you know what to expect.
And you get it in spades, but perhaps not quite in the exact form implications might point toward. Rather than being one of those glorious old Guitar Recordings fretbusting sessions so deliriously packed in with 64th notes and 9/8 rhythms, this is more picturesque, studies as much in tonal lyricism as sturdy talent. Too, it's clearly a guitarist's venue, bursting with six-stringer virtuosities and oddments, even to the point of Hackett adopting Holdsworthian tendencies in an Azymuthy (Bertrami's group, not Peacock's) Moon Song.
Husband's already played with many of these sessioneers, and the ones he hasn't toured with are talking about him. Currently, he wields two axes (drums, guitar) in McLaughlin's 4th Dimension band, and, seeing as how John's still one of the best stringsmen this mudball has yet produced, that's no small accolade. Expect as much in the way of abstraction as in fiery pyrotechnics. More than once, I was much reminded of John Orsi's work, another drummer who collides fusion with prog with oft painterly textures and unexpected paths.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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