Ken Husbands has spent time in a funk cover band and several years in Paris getting his Jazz chops sharpened to a razor’s edge. While there, he fell under the influence of North African styles and rhythms. He received a Ph.D in Jazz, studying the place of Jazz on French culture. In 2005, he moved to the Bay Area and started playing the best places and working with great musicians.
Two of those musicians were bassist Aaron Germain who has already released two CDs as a leader. The other is drummer Otto Huber who came to the Bay Area by way of Chicago where he was schooled in Jazz.
“Keepin’ It Going” is the title of Husbands’ third album and it is a rich and rewarding experience. The funk influence is heard right out of the gate on the opening track “East Coast Groupings.” It becomes immediately clear that this is going to be a fun and formidable album.
The song is jump-started by the quick guitar licks and syncopated pacing of Aaron Germain’s bass. The funky groove laid down by Germain and Huber is hot and durable. Husbands, meanwhile, does nothing to force it but rather creates an easy, flowing funk that makes the most of the time and talent of his rhythm section. Very virtuosic.
“Keepin’ It Going” shows off Germain’s electric bass madness as Husbands begins with a rhythm guitar strumming. Then Husbands and Germain shift leads a couple of times with Huber anchoring the rhythm for the string men. The drumming is almost an Elvin Jones straight Jazz approach and Huber owns the moment.
“Lucky Seven” starts off with a hard groove that is broken into segments by the guitar’s rapid interludes. Those interjections are complimentary and meaningful. The funk is still evident but the fusion takes a step forward on this—the second—track.
Husbands’ tones and distortions are well-placed and well-paced. There is a hint of the North African structures that he learned so well in France.
Huber puts on a good show in support of Husbands and Germain.
“Goodbye Eddie” was written by bassist Aaron Germain and is the only track not recorded by Husbands himself. It calls to mind some of Eddie Gomez’ work, especially that with Ralph Towner and Bill Bruford. Germain takes center stage and makes every use of the opportunity.
Huber himself wastes no time in his moments, either. Again, he follows a straight-up Jazz approach as Husbands turns in an impressive nod and a wink to Wes Montgomery.
The fifth track is entitled “Almost Eleven” and contains riveting tempo twists and a rewardingly raw touch from Husbands while the bass takes off on a sweet on-going riff and groove with Huber. The guitar again incorporates some fine examples of eastern and North African influences melodies and rhythms. The distorted and bedeviled guitar solo is a work of great beauty and intrigue.
This is an intricate composition that the trio performs magnificently. It is perhaps the most appealing piece of the whole album.
A cool samba, “But I Don’t” sounds like Husbands’ reply to Thelonius Monks’ “Well, You Needn’t.” The subtle guitar is well-devised to sit atop the excellent rhythm work of Germain and Huber. This shows them to be the perfect-for-each-other trio.
The bass solo is a “no holds barred” melodic offering that is a fine set-up to Huber’s stunning drum solo. It is a classic send-off piece for the album.
“Keepin’ It Going” is an album that does just that. The pacing is relentless and the execution is rapid-fire. Each and every composition is on-target and captivating while the performances leave nothing lacking. The arc of the track placement certainly bends towards fulfillment.
Such an enjoyable album.
Visit Ken Husbands' web site at: http://www.kenhusbands.com
Purchase "Keepin' It Going" at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kenhusbands3