Pianist Gary Husband devotes an entire album to interpreting the music of John McLaughlin, though in reality six of the numbers are Husband originals and presumably meant to convey the spirit of the guitarist. The pianist has a close connection with McLaughlin insofar as he has performed with him as part of the Fourth Dimension band for some thirteen years, and, in addition, has recorded and toured with the NDR Big Band, ECM musician Enrico Rava, and Lenny White.
One question that needs to be asked is whether the compositions lend themselves to this kind of minimalist treatment? Against this, one could argue that it brings out different aspect of the numbers and that McLaughlin himself has not been averse to re-interpreting other musicians’ compositions in the opposite direction, most notably in the case of his album of Bill Evans pieces.
With that in mind, the listener should adopt an open-minded approach to this present project. Interestingly, the compositions that most stood out to these ears with those of Husband’s own and, maybe, that should not come as too great a surprise since he has the clearest mind of all on what he seeking to communicate. Some of the interpretations are quite bleak in tone, as with ‘Spirits Opening’, and one qualification to the endeavour is that it is a reflective reading of McLaughlin, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all, but some fans of the guitarist may have other expectations. Of the Husband originals, this writer enjoyed the two part ‘Lotus Feet Reflections’, and reprise, and in a similar mood, ‘Song For My Mother’. The Indo-jazz fusion side to John McLaughlin’s work is only represented by ‘Alap’, though interestingly the fusion era is most effectively conveyed by a Husband original, ‘Joyful’, that features a strong Latin-vamp and comes across as being influenced by the 1970’s sounds of Chick Corea.
The recording originally came out on a limited edition US only CD back in 2005, but this new version has been properly re-mastered with an entirely new packaging. A worthy project and maybe another on the music of pianists/keyboardists from the 1970’s era would make for a fitting follow up.
Album Launch 20th October Kings Place, Hall Two, London