Anyone who heard Gary Husband on guitarist Allan Holdsworth’s 1982 album i.o.u. knew they were listening to a new drumming force. The problem was that the album was released on the small Luna Crack label, meaning few heard one of Holdsworth’s best recordings. Within a few years, Husband had cracked the Top 40 charts with Level 42, been replaced by Chad Wackerman with Holdsworth, and put his jazz/fusion skills on the back burner. But a series of sessions (Billy Cobham, John McLaughlin) and solo efforts over the past decade, like this driving new release, have brought the unsung drummer some deserved recognition.
On Hotwired, Husband also plays keyboards (as he’s done on solo piano releases of the music of Holdsworth and McLaughlin). On the drummer’s opening “The Defender,” he drops Tony Williams-like bombs and locks in with bassist Michael Janisch after the intro by saxophonist Julian Siegel and trumpeter Richard Turner. After an abstract midsection, the track closes with a hard-bop flourish. Husband then adds keyboard lines to a creative cover of Level 42’s “Heaven in My Hands,” a showcase for the 23-year-old Turner.
Husband also navigates the band through Siegel’s rhythmically complex “10/4” (another Turner burner), and channels Elvin Jones on two of his compositions. On the ballad “The Agony of Ambiguity,” the drummer plays with mallets to accent Siegel’s somber figures; on “Deux Deux’s Blues” his ride cymbal work and accents give the mid-tempo swing number an additional swagger. But his opus is “Angels Over City Square,” inspired by Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire. Husband’s pensive piano intro leads to a simmering middle solo by Siegel, then a propulsive drum break over the end vamp.