Diversity is a big spice of my musical life
Journalists regularly refer to me as a multi-instrumentalist but I only in fact play two instruments! Piano and drums, though my development and priority to both is in equal measure. I also compose, arrange and produce my own recordings and musical ventures, and I balance these out around associations with some of the truly great musicians in the world, all of which I am very fortunate and proud to be affiliated with on an ongoing basis.
By discipline, I’m formally classically trained on piano. By nature, I’m an improviser and a writer, but in the case of the former my “vocabulary” is not typical of or by any means exclusive to jazz. In fact, the improvising area involving both of my instruments is very personally formed and has been influenced by my involvements and/or great interest in many diverse areas of music.
Actively, I’m still I guess what they call a “journeyman”. (It eventually dawns on you exactly how much you’re “on the road” when you find yourself regularly checking into hotels all over the world knowing where everything is once you’re inside!)
Actually, I had no choice. I never made it (outside of my session musician involvements in the British pop and rock areas) onto any kind of “regular call” list in my country of origin, so I worked towards an alternative. Interestingly, as a consequence of the decades of travelling I have under my belt I now feel strangely, and quite happily “international”, while all the time I’m in touch and firmly aware of my European roots. I’m comfortable with that, and find a constant relocation very enriching. In addition, it’s a regular working lifestyle that keeps me very much in touch with the immediate.
Before continuing, I have to mention something very pertinent to my musical development. It concerns something Allan Holdsworth – a real brother to me, as well as being one of the most original and innovative musicians of our time – said to me way back in around 1979 when we first started to play. He asked me to be “myself” in his music. This was a very significant first for me. He gave me that avenue – that invitation – and it’s with particular thanks to him I started to nurture the confidence to begin building what I have going on today.
As a sideman down the years I’ve been heard with a good many musicians, bands or artists. I’ve enjoyed some involvements more than others but they’ve all been hugely beneficial to me as a musician one way or another. I’m grateful to all of them for including me in their musical vision and, as ever, I’m always looking forward to new associations.
At the present time I’m enjoying more than ever a now several-year-long involvement with John McLaughlin (and the band The 4th Dimension), a revised working relationship with Billy Cobham (in his current Spectrum 40 band) and regularly getting to work on many different projects with Hamburg’s NDR Big Band. I’m also playing with a band led by Lenny White, prospectively involved playing with (respectively) pianists Richie Beirach, Joey Calderazzo, maybe a project with my Spectrum 40 cohort Dean Brown among many other things too. I’m also enjoying independently jumping on board (so to speak) various other artist’s recording projects too – flying in keyboard solos or drum performances on request – a new, always interesting and enjoyable way to work.
My solo career? Well, it’s as varied and perhaps idiosyncratic as it is linked (if that makes any sense!) My Force Majeure group of 2004/2005 (featuring Randy Brecker, Jerry Goodman, Elliot Mason, Jim Beard, Matthew Garrison and Arto Tuncboyaciyan) was a delightful adventure into instrumental textures and certain compositional ideas and forms, while my more recent two (CD) volumes of Dirty & Beautiful paint a kind of personal celebration of my long term involvement in the Jazz Rock Fusion area, at the same time as getting a lot of past and present collaborators together to play again.
The jazz quartet project (Gary Husband’s Drive) was a respectful nod to all the great drummer/bandleaders that inspired me greatly – namely Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ralph Peterson, Max Roach and, of course, the one and only Tony Williams. I also enjoyed the major challenge of writing for a group with no harmony instrument.
Almost ENTIRELY ABOUT harmony, though, were the two “Interpretations Of” piano albums – dissecting, reforming and freshly presenting music written by (respectively) John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth. I’m proudest, to date, of both these efforts.
What continues to musically fascinate me? Mainly the idea that will (hopefully) arrive tomorrow! I’m still enchanted with the idea of my own music for visuals too, and maybe I’ll get “there” in some shape or form one day. Also, the idea to make some effective noise in the educational side of things is of robust interest to me – to continue and effectively pass down some of the principals I feel to be fundamentally important in the area of creative music making.