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06/29/12

Gary Husband
Dirty & Beautiful : Volume 2
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We had a feeling this was coming, what with Gary Husband calling his previous album Dirty & Beautiful: Volume 1 and all. The multi-instrumentalist has attracted a wide range of guests to help him execute his vision, which lives unabashedly in the land of ’70s and ’80s jazz-rock. The guy has no problem getting help, having played with an eclectic roster of artists, from Jeff Beck to the Pet Shop Boys.

Though the leader is a musician who plays keyboards and drums (on the same tracks, overdubbed), Dirty & Beautiful: Volume 2 hangs together on its guitarists. Husband may be in charge, but he is smart enough to share the limelight—in some cases, hand it over—to people like Neil Taylor, who gives up a solo on Jan Hammer’s “Rain” that is deliciously stuck in ’80s rock; Wayne Krantz, whose interplay with Husband’s electric piano drives the uptempo on-the-spot composition “East River Jam”; John McLaughlin, whose crunching, bluesy work on “Sulley” recalls his days with Miles Davis’ fusion outfits; and Mike Stern, who solos ad infinitum, and with endless creatively, over Husband’s churning rock rhythm on “Rolling Sevens.”

Then there’s Husband using the portamento effect to simulate an electric guitar while commingling with an actual electric guitarist (Ray Russell) on “If the Animals Had Guns Too,” which contains more than a few references to Miles’ early fusion. Speaking of which: Husband, guitarist Robin Trower and bassist Livingstone Brown close things out with a searing take on the “Yesternow” theme from Jack Johnson. Will there be only two volumes of Dirty & Beautiful? Because we’d take more.

Originally published in June 2012
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