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'A jazz drummer of the new age…' is a pretty apt description of Gary Husband. There are many players whose mastery of the instrument places them in a league with Gary Husband but there are few with his intuition and musical attitude. His skill lies in an ability to channel technical brilliance into a musical assault of blinding spontaneity and almost shocking aggression.
Gary's approach is one that shuns the stumbling block of over analysis. In the true spirit of jazz, and of all great music, his creativity comes from the freedom to be expressive and to liberate his playing from the confines of technique. His concern is the interaction between musicians - cause and effect, question and answer - that is the heart and soul of music.
His association with Allan Holdsworth spans more than a decade and dates back to the time when Gary was involved with Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia. Prior to that his musical background, although pitched at an enviably high level was varied to say the least.
Born at a very early age in the northern town of Leeds the drumming instinct was instilled in Gary by the combined forces of Ringo Starr and the Northern Dance Orchestra. After a period of playing Greek weddings in and around Leeds be began his career in earnest with Syd Lawrence... he was fifteen at the time..
His stint with the veteran band leader lasted some eighteen months and on his amicable departure the young Gary headed south to London where an unsupportable workload beckoned.
During the next couple of years Gary's growing reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative drummers around earned him a level of respect equalled only by the amount of gigs he was picking up. At various times he was to be found occupying the hot seat with Gordon Beck, Mike Carr, The Morrisey Mullen Band, Turning Point, RMS, The Ronnie Scott Quintet, The Gil Evans Orchestra and eventually Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia.
It was under this mantle that he came to the attention of Holdsworth, who had popped in to the Ronnie Scott's, accompanied by Jack Bruce, with the express intention of recruiting a new band.
A musical meeting was duly arranged, after which it was generally accepted that things gelled extremely well, and once Allan discovered that Gary was also a Star Treck [sic] fanatic his fate was sealed. Over the next decade there developed a musical relationship that remains virtually unparalleled in terms of radical creativity. And during his on/off involvement with Allan, Gary has emerged as an archetype of the contemporary drummer.
In late 1987 he took over the honours in Level 42, filling the space left by Neil Conti who was in turn sitting in for the departed Phil Gould. A challenge that many would have found daunting but one which Gary has risen to with characteristic gusto, stamping his own identity on the band and stretching his legs as an all-round musician. Following two major tours the band have recently completed their fourth video. Gary has also toured extensively with Allan, their most recent outing being a highly successful visit to Japan.
Apart from his monumental skills as a drummer Gary is also a talented pianist and can often be seen moonlighting amidst the smokey atmosphere of London's 606 Club in Chelsea. Further proof of his consumate musicianship is his ability as a writer; he penned the track City Nights on Allan's last album, on which he also played keyboards and has been responsible for several Level 42 songs, including their last single.
Immediate plans for the future include a solo album, which should not only allow Gary an even freer rein to express this extraordinary inventiveness, but could also be a drummer's solo album worth considerably more than a cursory listen.
In the meantime that inventiveness is channelled into his work with Allan Holdsworth and on the evidence of previous collusions it can have no finer outlet. Sit back and watch the sparks fly.
Transcribed by Per Stornes
Updated: February 1, 2001
Scheduled update: None
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