Stellar pianist Gary Husband was on tour as a guest player with Stick Men (Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Markus Reuter) in Japan, when, due to the sudden lockdown as a result of Covid-19, the tour was abruptly cancelled. Temporarily stranded before their return flights, along with producer Leonardo Pavkovic, he and Reuter booked some studio time and laid down the music that was eventually arranged and edited into this singularly wilful but serene piece of musical art.
Halfway through Across the Azure Blue, the serene soundscape thus created by Gary Husband on the studio grand piano on emotive opener The Colour of Sorrow and onward into the second piece is given extra splashes of colour by way of a few loud ringing notes from Markus Reuter’s echoing guitar. The subtle changes in the impressionistic landscape are illuminated by rays of sunlight bursting through the scudding clouds, which dissipate, leaving a vast sea of blue.
The music is always melodic, and highly descriptive, and yet completely improvised. These are two musicians completely in tune with one another. The lead is mostly taken by Husband, but Reuter is not merely a gracious accompaniment, his sounds embellish Husband’s inspired flights over the ivory with just right amount of nuance, and occasionally standing alone and defiant.
The air of melancholy which infuses the album is most apparent, and perhaps obviously, on White Horses (for Allan). Gary Husband shines more light on the piece, and the album as a whole in the video on the Bandcamp page. The poignant sense of loss on this heartfelt tribute to a departed friend, where one can fall through the gaps between the piano notes, is tempered by shimmering hope of distant starburst guitar peals from Markus that point to an unknown future for us all beyond the current lockdown of the soul. That glimpse of optimism is continued into the uplifting lead line of the last piece, Illuminated Heart, which expresses a hope, a yearning for a new beginning, which may seem currently just out of reach, but we know it is there waiting for us.
I hope I have managed to convey that Music of Our Time is a completely immersive experience, an aural flotation tank for the soul, and as such is a soundtrack to the much needed pause to contemplate, and to self-examine, provided by this current crisis. Out of that reflection, one can only hope that a better world emerges from these troubled times.
01. The Colour Of Sorrow (10:32)
02. Across The Azure Blue (7:07)
03. Music of Our Times (6:35)
04. A Veiled Path (8:37)
05. White Horses (for Allan) (9:07)
06. Illuminated Heart (8:56)
Total Time – 50:57
Gary Husband – Fazioli F212 Grand Piano
Markus Reuter – Live Electronics, Touch Guitars® AU8
Record Label: MoonJune Records
Countries of Origin: U.K./Germany
Date of Release: 22nd April 2020