Gary Husband is among anyone’s top drummers list. Many, however, forget what a remarkable pianist he is. In fact, it was a pianist that he was touring with Stick Men. With guitar maestro Markus Reuter, the two joined their musical chemistry and incredible humanity to record this improvised masterpiece. Music of Our Time is a work of exquisite beauty and rarity.
With Gary on the acoustic piano and Markus on TouchGuitar ®, the duo releases the doubts, fears, love, and hope that permeated the time of impending isolation and uncertainty. What they have offered up is a testament for our times, an emotional freezeframe of the music of our time.
The album opens with Colour of Sorrow. The first notes heard are from the Fazioli F212 Grand piano at the NK Sound Studio in Tokyo. Markus joins in with the TouchGuitar AU8 and a tapestry begins to be woven. In this haunting and lovely soundscape, the sadness is palpable. For over 10 minutes, Gary and Markus create an atmosphere that causes the faces of friends known and unknown, caught in the midst of a pandemic, to appear unbidden. Images of hospitals and masked healthcare workers rush before our eyes, born on the wings of the music.
The symmetry and understanding between the two masters are ineffable. The beauty is profound.
Across the Azure Blue opens with what sounds like a reminiscence of Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral). Markus and Gary trade expositions and complements and it is made clear that the musical opportunity seized by Leonardo has yielded unimaginable rewards. Imagine a dialogue between Shakespeare and Goethe. This is the musical equivalent.
The title track, Music of Our Times, follows. The poetic movement of the improvisation and the interplay of the duo is intoxicating. The full chording of the piano and washes of the guitar are rich and moving.
A Veiled Path comes to us as the uncertainty of our times. We know that we are moving forward but we have no idea of the obstacles and challenges before us all. In the piano work, the underlying pattern seems certain, even inevitable, but the shadowy tones cast by Markus and the unexpected stabs of the piano heighten the sense of not-knowing what is to come. As the piece moves forward, a constant unraveling of the structure occurs and it is precisely what played out in the days since March 3, 2020, when the track was recorded. Musical prophecy.
The penultimate piece is White Horses (For Allan). Guitar legend Allan Holdsworth died on April 17, 2017. Gary called his friendship with Holdsworth, “the most significant musical relationship of my life.” On Allan’s passing, Gary wrote, “With Allan I had the invitation to literally invent. I knew it was totally unique music. Yet strangely it was music I felt instantly - almost as naturally as if it had come through me.”
The very same can be said of Gary’s work with Markus. The musical invention between the two of them is unique and instant and so very natural. This elegy to Holdsworth combines all the best hallmarks and highlights of what the maestro espoused.
The wonderful album concludes with Illuminated Heart. Herein lies the hope—the hope of a future understanding gained by humanity in the wake of tragedy. It is the most uplifting and optimistic piece on the album. Markus keeps a sustained crest of the wave in the background as Gary explores the troughs of the wave. Surges from Markus create reflections of understanding. The melodic development from Gary calls the mind the best improvisations from Keith Jarrett. It is a warm and flowing and, in the end, a welcoming view of the future.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl