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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

New Album Review "A Soul In Time" by Morgan / Husband / Feraud





Artist: Morgan / Husband / Feraud

Album: A Soul In Time

Release: 2024


A supergroup of musicians joins guitarist James Morgan from Ghost Jazz Trio on an old school classic fusion album. All five tracks were composed by Dean Brown and James Morgan. This is fusion in every sense of the word, looking back to the 70's heyday of the genre when musicians were pushing the boundaries and having commercial success with it. It was a space in time where jazz and rock met. Artists like Jeff Beck, Al Dimeola and Stanley Clarke were well deserved household names in music circles. There weren't concerns about the music being radio friendly, but instead quality world class musicianship in all its glory. That is the spirit with which A Soul In Time was recorded.


Track one, On The Edge comes out of the gate capturing everything that makes the hair on the arms of fusion fans stand up. The attention to detail is crystal clear in a few short measures. The tones are impeccably dialed in and recorded wonderfully. One of the cool things about fusion is how diverse each musician's parts are. The line provided by bassist extraordinaire Hadrien Feraud is a testament to why he has sustained the career that he has. The players are woven like a basket and all bringing their own unique color to the ensemble, but still creating one huge and diverse sound, like all great fusion.


The radio single on the album and title track A Soul In Time sits quite comfortably somewhere between traditional jazz and smooth jazz. It features the sublime sax work of Eric Marienthal holding down the bulk of the melody work. Gary Husband is not only a fantastic drummer but a deeply soulful piano player. It is quite remarkable to play two instruments at the highest level while making it sound like he is just walking and chewing gum. The bass and saxophone solos are simply perfect for the well written piece that has the radio sense of a smooth jazz track but the depth of real jazz cats laying into it with a loose delivery. 


Samba Sky is a standout as well, featuring percussionist Joey De Leon adding to the groove. This track seems to be the one that pushes the furthest into the fusion world and is not for the lighthearted casual music listener. This is a hardcore exploration of the sonic possibilities. James Morgan's guitar work within this track is outstanding. Clocking in at 5:30 leaves the listener wondering what the outtakes sound like. I imagine a live version of this would be a sonic assault on all the senses. It is the kind of playing and composing that makes one wonder what is left in their heads that wasn't captured on tape.


This album is a welcomed addition to the world of fusion. One of the things that I really enjoy about it is it is truly an ensemble effort. All the musicians step up when the spotlight moves to them and then gracefully hand the baton to the next runner. Fusion has a way of feeling chaotic, which is just part of the language, but this one feels more pocketed than most. The musicianship and production are as good as it gets. The mix captures each performance beautifully. When players of this caliber are assembled on a project typically the results are quite impressive, as is this recording session. If you are a fan of the classic fusion sound you will love this album.


Check out the interview below with James Morgan and Gary Husband !




Gary Husband:


Tell us the brief history of your musical career.

Well, I’ve been a performing musician and composer since 1976 -

instrumentally active on both my principal instruments: drums and piano/

keyboards. As a sideman I’ve been associated with so many musicians

from the realms of big band, rock, jazz, jazz fusion, pop, funk, classical

and more ever since. The associates have been rather extensive! Then

there’s my solo career - composition, solo projects, and as a bandleader.

 

How did you become involved with this project?

I was approached by my longtime dear friend and colleague Dean Brown

to collaborate on this album from James. Dean and I worked together in

Billy Cobham’s Spectrum 40 band, and the Spectrum 30 band ten years

before that. He approached me and sent me demos outlining he’d want

me to be involved as both drummer and keyboardist on the project.

Naturally I was very happy to get involved.

 

How do you like the way this album turned out?

Well, the whole objective was for this to sound like a live trio playing

together. For that we have to rely on our experience - to play as if we are

all reacting together and bouncing off each other in real-time. That’s a

certain art, but one nevertheless we cultivate over time. My drum passes

were done for the five pieces in one day in London to almost nothing more

than the bare bones of these demos - without anybody else’s eventual

performance. The keyboards I did at home a little while later at home, but

with the benefit of having the drums completed. Then came Hadrien’s

bass passes, and eventually James’s guitars.

It all worked out very organically. I was happy towards the later stages of the project to have made the

suggestion a great associate of mine (the engineer George Murphy) be

involved. George and I have worked many years together on a good deal

of my own albums and also a good few we did with John McLaughlin’s 4th

Dimension. It was a pleasure to oversee and be involved with the

overseeing and production of the resulting mix, and then to take it to

mastering engineer Andrew Tulloch and oversee that process with him.

They’re kind of my (and more recently John’s too) trusted go to “A team”!

So, I’ve had a lot to do with this production in a few good ways, and it’s

been a joy to have been involved.

 

The band on this album is very tight. Would you consider performing

these songs live?

Well, I’m happy it sounds that way to you! To perform live, yes sure, but

we’d need to enlist either a keyboardist or a drummer as I am still not yet

able to perform both those functions at the same time!

 

How much creativity went into the production of this album?

Oh, within obviously the structure, mood and fabric of each track, a great

deal. On the part of all of us.

 

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Love, animals, movies, art, travel ... and of course a whole lot of

composers, great musicians and performers.

 

What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?

Oh, there are far too many of them to ever be able to list here I’m afraid!

 

What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far?

The satisfaction of getting a contribution to something as right as possible.

The joy of managing to inspire my fellow musicians, and whenever I have

succeeded in touching someone through what I do, play, write or produce.

What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

I would say not to compromise is a good one. But then have been a vast

many that have stayed with me.

 

What's new in the recording of this new album?

Everything! Each new project or venture warrants new challenges,

demands new and unique approaches. Everything we do is a fresh

chance, to play with more heart, more meaning, greater vision and

articulation. Each time demands a renewal of everything.

 

What inspires you to write music?

It seems that should have a good answer. What I can say is that the

inspiration comes when it comes. And I am humbled and supremely

thankful for that gift every single time that happens.

 

What made you want to play the instrument or instruments you

play?

Probably the combination of having musicians as parents and the

acknowledgement of a deep and intense ambition to play. Apparently, I

was trying to pick out melodies and chords as soon as I could reach the

family home piano’s keyboard.

 

How does this latest album differ from others in the past?

Actually, not too much, in terms of the specific type of involvement I’ve had

here. I’ve done a lot of creating drums passes to material still in a demo or

very basic form. Keyboards too. I’ve also played on a substantial number

of recordings - mine or of others - where both my drums and keyboard

abilities are featured.

 

How are you continuing to grow musically?

Work!!! I don’t believe that will ever stop.

 

Are there any musicians who inspire you that are not famous? What

qualities do you admire about them?

Well, I’ve had the benefit and the blessing to play with so many varied

different kinds of incredible artists - legendary, well known, semi known,

little known, right through to virtually unknown. It remains the same today.

Everyone’s been special and unique. I guess it’s the marketing people or

programmers that make their distinctions on all that, but to us music

makers it makes no difference. It’s just us all together as musicians in the

joyous communal act of making music.

 

Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you

learn from them that you still use today?

I had a brutal classical piano teacher who seemed to thrive on

intimidation, violence even, and to constantly belittle her students. But she

gave me a technique and a command on piano that’s still with me today!

What to say!?

 

How would musicians you work with, describe you and your work

ethic?

Well, they know that I work incredibly hard - to prepare as best I can to

contribute as best as I can. I just work hard, ya’now? And that pays off all the

time. I haven’t been in a lot of the situations I’ve come to be involved in

because of my looks! Ha ha!

 

If you could play with anyone in the world, who would it be?

To be honest, I’m just drawn to working with the best musicians I can. Just

like anybody else. But some of the most challenging and beneficial

situations I’ve had haven’t always featured great ones. In this case it’s yet

more good self-development in application. To rise in the task at hand

above the weaknesses and to assume the strength to get closer to

making perhaps the not so special elements of a musical unit work better.

 

If you could change anything about the music industry today, what

would it be?

Well to the those of us involved in this kind of player / performer capacity -

or particularly in a writing too - streaming sucks. This whole devaluation of

music is just a total drag, and it’s my opinion we’ve all been sold down the

river ... by the record companies, I guess. So, we can’t profit in anything

like the way we did from sales of our products anymore...which makes it

majorly hard to put back revenue into new / next projects. We’re all feeling

the blues about it. Because of this, in combination with the seemingly

constant closure or demolition of so many music establishments and

venues, it’s hard to not think we’ve been royally screwed. The younger

ones coming up now, they’re the ones I feel for especially. In addition to

these aspects, I have no interest whatsoever and never will have in AI

generated music.

 

What do you think the best aspects of the music business are?

Music itself! Everything it embodies and the gifts real music bestow on us.

The honesty, integrity and determination of an artist. How, real music,

heartfelt music and truly meant music is truly transformative and how

powerfully unifying it is

 

If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which

do you prefer and why?

It would depend on the project, and the nature of that project, but I would

say, (as much as I love recording), live performance. Any day.

 

Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up?

As a kid I was very taken with the idea of becoming a F1 driver! On my

beloved mum’s instruction though, that was very definitely not to be in line

for being considered an option!

 

Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the

industry.

I think now more than ever, to be true, strong and steadfastly dedicated.

To have absolutely unshakable conviction behind every single note he or

she plays. Be as strong and compassionate a personality as you can, and

watch that transfer over (in a positive sense obviously) to your art,

attitudes and creativity.

 

How do you prepare for your performances and recording sessions?

Well, I just prepare... as thoroughly as possible. I don’t really do too much

in terms of physical warmups or much like that. I become a little bit

introspective for a while before playing. I hate coming from a loud and

wildly busy atmosphere and straight to the stage. I like to find a place to

reflect and be a little peaceful before a concert or show.

 

What does your practice routine consist of?

Very simple things. Majorly just movement, flexing and getting things

moving. Best method is always as slowly as I can manage and stand to

do it. And definitely not strenuous practice. It’s what I took from my

classical piano days. Apart from the actually performance I really benefit

most significantly from indulging in what I term “inner” practice. It’s about

contemplation, reflection and becoming one with the little flame of

inspiration and desire inside. I like to focus on ideas that transpire and

occur to me during these peaceful periods. I then like to visualize myself

playing them or expressing them.

 

What do you like most about your new album A Soul in Time?

That it’s dedicated to a very, very cherished friend, beautiful man and

wonderful, legendary musician; the original producer and architect of this

project Dean Brown. It was so very tragic and sad that in the space of

time between me finishing up the drum takes for this record and the later

stages bass and extra guitar tracking were to occur, Dean had developed

complex symptoms, had tests, been admitted into hospital, had become

hooked up to intravenous and finally becoming placed on life support.

When I was informed Dean had tragically passed, I was just numb with

sadness, pouring everything into this project I could. I believe we were all

on the same page in this. I gather Dean wanted to hear constant audio

updates and hear progress of all transpiring developments taking place

towards the album right up until almost the very end. And what James,

Hadrien and myself can claim with this, in all integrity is that every feasible

effort was made to produce this album as closely as possible to Dean’s

original vision for it.

 

What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?

I go through periods. I latch on to one artist sometimes, spend time

checking them out and live through and all their recorded output for a

while. These can be longtime perennial favorites or somebody

completely new. I have a very broad and eclectic reach. I may more

generally, gravitate to artists not really in my area. I like to pick up on

essences inherent in a lot of varied, different areas of music.

 

How do you promote your band and shows?

Depends what funds I have at my disposal. We’re kind of on our own with

it all at this point in the business. At the very least I keep pretty regular on

social media and YouTube, promoting things there.

 

What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs,

releases, etc.

My gigs and shows? Well, it would have to be the Dates/Tours page at my

website www.garyhusband.com and on my social media.

 

Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming

shows/tours or songs/albums?

I am enjoying putting an increasing amount of my things on my still fairly

recently acquired Bandcamp page. I released not so long ago “Songs of

Love & Solace” - a solo piano album where I just wanted to try and

achieve as much beauty as possible in the arrangements of actually quite

popular songs. A little more of an ambitious release that I’m working soon on

the mastering, is a new double CD / double vinyl release entitled

“Postcards From the Past”. It’s made up of a fairly plentiful selection of

mostly unaired material of mine, or my activity with other musical

colleagues over many years. There’s a demo track with Allan Holdsworth

(From actually back in the first year I had started playing with him; late

‘70s) that no-one except for those who recorded it, or on it or archived it

have heard. There’s some stuff with a 3-piece group I had in the early ‘90s

featuring the guitarist Steve Topping (whom I embarked on a significant

path of early creative development with back in our teenage years) which

I’m also very excited to air for the very first time. Lots of stuff and

surprises abound on this release.

 

What are your interests outside of music?

Oh, my loved ones, my friends, great food, learning French, cooking,

movies, keeping as healthy as I can.

 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I feel a lot more like I do now than I did when I got here.



James Morgan Interview:


Tell us the brief history of your musical career.

I grew up in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties in northern California, and as a teen started listening to Return to Forever,  Mahavishnu Orchestra, Passport, and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew along with other jazz fusion artists, inspiring me to take up the guitar. In the late seventies I was fortunate enough to take guitar lessons from Bill Connors of Return to Forever fame. I lived in Santa Cruz, CA and drove to Half Moon Bay for weekly guitar lessons, learning technique, where I formed a close friendship with Bill that lasted a few years.  


I went on to become a bandleader throughout the following decades, writing my own compositions whilst forming various jazz fusion bands along the way, including my band Absolute Black, which opened for singer Mickey Thomas of Starship in the mid-90s. From 2009 to 2016 my jazz fusion band Dialog Project performed live and recorded a couple albums, one of which achieved quick acclaim, being nominated for best jazz album of the year in 2013 by the San Diego Music Awards. Dialog Project opened for such acts as Allan Holdsworth, Dokken, bassist Stu Hamm and others.


More recently I created my own genre of jazz music “West Coast Contemporary Jazz” that is both relaxing and interesting. I formed the dynamic, and mysteriously named Ghost Jazz Trio, in 2017, and started performing locally in San Diego, CA for corporate and private events as well as small music venues and restaurants, building the GJT brand. California, and as a teen started listening to Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Passport, and


How did you become involved with this project?

My good friend Dean Brown who produced my last contemporary smooth jazz album Groovin Smooth, released in 2023 on Guitar One Records, heard me playing some chords in the main room, while he and the engineer were editing songs on the album. On the ride home, he asked if those were songs I had written, and they sounded beautiful and reminded him of 70s jazz fusion that inspired him. I told him, I had more songs I had written in the jazz fusion genre, which was the genre I used to play before I started the Ghost Jazz Trio. Dean asked me to send him recordings of the songs. After hearing the songs, he asked if I'd be interested in recording a new album in the jazz fusion genre with a 1970s jazz fusion vibe. I said yes, and here we are today.


How do you like the way this album turned out?

This project was intended to sound like we were playing together live, in the same room. Dean asked us all to play our hearts out, and take no prisoners regarding intensity. Dean wanted that grab you by the neck feeling, and not let go until the song ended. Gary Husband said that Dean told him to leave blood on the floor lol. Though we all recorded our parts separately, I think we achieved the results intended.


The band on this album is very tight. Would you consider performing these songs live?

If Gary came to Los Angeles for some reason, and wanted to perform the songs live, we would need to get a keyboardist or drummer to perform with us since Gary plays both keyboards and drums on the album. Maybe one of Dean's drummers he performed with locally, Dennis Chambers or Marvin "Smitty" Smith, and on keys, maybe Gerry Etkins and Earnest Tibbs on bass. I am sure Gary would be able to make that happen with his many acquaintances in the area.


How much creativity went into the production of this album?

To make a long story shorter, I think Dean really dug deep down into his musical soul, to come up with some amazing melodies on a few of the songs, and we both discussed the arrangements for each song. I wanted A Feather's Touch and A Soul in Time to have an acoustic piano and a hollow body jazz guitar, for a toned-down sound from the high energy and intense songs of On the Edge and Samba Sky. The song, Eyes of Truth was my tribute of sorts to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jean Luc Ponty unearthly sounds I listened to as a teen, that inspired me. The rhythm guitar is the droning instrument of the Indian vibe and the synth riffs have the Spanish scale vibe on one of the bridges. Gary Husband carried most of the responsibility on this album, regarding instrumentation and creative juices. He had to play drums to a bare-bones mockup recording, and then do all the synth and pianos. Hadrien and I recorded our tracks to his story. Gary was very instrumental in the editing, mixing and mastering of this album too. It would not sound like it does without his wealth of creativity and dedication to this album. Hadrien has an amazing ability to really hear and play to the song, which enhances it to another level. Having Eric Marienthal play sax on the title song was Dean's wish, which Eric was gracious enough to do. I told Dean that I envisioned percussion on Samba Sky and he recommended Los Angeles based percussionist Joey De Leon, who does a great job on the tune


Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

My main influences were the jazz fusion bands of the 1970's including Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and of course the album Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. The guitarists that I listened to as a teen were John McLauglin, John Abercrombie, Bill Connors, Larry Coryell, Icarus Johnson, Al Di Meola, Allan Holdsworth.


What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?

Bitches Brew by Miles Davis, Inner Mounting Flame by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Hymn to the 7th Galaxy by Return to Forever. These albums helped to form my approach to playing and composing. Just like the movie Cool Hand Luke, those bands taught me there are rules and to break those rules in regards to playing and composing music. And stay true to yourself.


What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far? 

That would be discovering my own sound and voice ion the guitar. Finding your own voice, sound, tone, style and ability to tell a story with your instrument, to me is what being an artist is all about. If you lack any one of those, you are not there yet. It's what separates you from others.


Tell me about your favorite performance in your career that comes to mind.

I would have to say it was opening for the great and late Allan Holdsworth at Brick by Brick in San Diego, CA back in 2012 on January Friday the 13th. It was amazing to open for an artist I admired since I was a teen. We performed at his personal request of the venue owner, which was amazing to have that happen. Great validation as a musician. Stu Hamm at Ramona Mainstage in San Diego CA, was a great show to open for too.


What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

Take your time when playing a solo, starting slow, build to a definite point of repose, and tell the best story you can with your instrument. Learn as many new lexicons as possible throughout your musical life. The bucket is bountiful and boundless.


What's new in the recording of this new album?

For me, it's my first time recording an album without the other musicians in the same room. It was all done separately and remotely. Also to have the producer, co-writer and arranger pass away during the process. This album took almost a year to complete, which is also a first for me. It's been an amazing journey. One I will never forget.


What inspires you to write music? 

Rhythm inspires me. I tend to work off rhythm when writing a song. I find some harmony in the chords I come up with based on a rhythm I like. I then playback the song and jam with it until I find a phrase or phrases I like, that then become the melody. I always allow the solo part of a song to be different from the song form, if that makes sense. 


What made you want to play the instrument or instruments you play? 

At first playing guitar was a refuge for me to step outside the turbulent childhood I found myself in. Later it became and still is a tool I can use to create my own reality based and filled full of joy, and happiness. It is also a language I can master and use to communicate with other artists when


How does this latest album differ from others in the past? 

The personnel for sure. I would never have imagined that I would be recording my songs with two of the top calls in the world of music. To have Dean even think or consider that my music warranted having these musicians on the album, is a huge validation for me as an artist. Dean believed in me and was always encouraging.


How are you continuing to grow musically?

Playing music, like being human, is a lifelong journey of growth, development and mastering the art of living the music life. I allow the music to lead the way on the path, for me to travel. Being a musician is not just about playing an instrument, it is about living the life of music. Dedicating yourself to that life, like a monk dedicates his life to spirituality.


Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today?

Bill Connors of RTF fame was my teacher as a teen and Jorge Strunz of the band Caldera was a teacher for a brief period, when I lived in Los Angeles in the early 90s. They both instilled in me to follow my own path, and not try to be someone else. They both told me to become one with my instrument as another way/language to communicate my story to others, on a grand scale.


How would musicians you work with, describe you and your work ethic?

As a musician, they'd say I am driven, result oriented and creative. As a band leader, I am generous in allowing them to showcase their talents during live performances and recordings.


If you could play with anyone in the world, who would it be?

John McLaughlin


If you could change anything about the music industry today, what would it be?

The way music artists that are not part of the corporate run part of the industry are compensated for recordings and performances, and how the minuscule royalties are paid out by the streaming platforms. Streaming platforms are the gatekeepers for how indie artist music is distributed now. The digital approach to recordings that take away 99% of the organic sounds of the instruments and lack of real instruments in today's music recordings.


What do you think the best aspects of the music business are?

The ability to create a brand and market that brand as a band or solo artist. An artist can build a fan base, record and market and sell their music without giving up all control to a third-party entity. You do need to partner with other online music entities to build your brand, and it can be a fair and complimentary way that benefits both parties.


If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why? 

Live improvisational performance, because you are literally in the moment with other musicians creating in that moment. You are having a spontaneous dialogue within the framework of an ongoing music piece. It allows you to create in the moment from the energy and stories the other musicians are telling. It allows you to explore new ideas that come to you in that moment with the full support of the band.


What do you think about online music sharing?

It can be a useful tool for unknown acts to gain visibility in a business that has 65K plus releases a month on average.


Describe your creative process when you write or collaborate on new music compositions.

I would record the harmonic chords and apply melody ideas, and send those to my producer to use those ideas to create the song form. We then discuss the song arrangements, in both instrumentally and form.


What is your favorite piece of gear and why?

My Pat Matheney signature hollow body guitar and my Roland Artist Blues Cube combo amp 1x12, along with my Zoom G3X effects unit and Line 6 HX Stomp box, and my trusty pick, that I roughen up with a razor blade to reduce slippage. I also use Thomastik and D’Addario strings.


How do you prepare for your performances and recording sessions? 

I hammer it out in the shed until I am familiar with the tune or tunes. Then I forget everything when I go in to record or go on stage to perform, and hope I can flow and tell my story in that moment in time. You can practice a solo for months, for a 30 second solo. But that 30 seconds has to count and you only have one chance to make it happen and be happy with it.


What does your practice routine consist of?

Daily regime according to my daily schedule on things I need to hone, expand on or learn. Guitar is the only instrument that does not have a specific way to play it. If you play piano, there is a way you play it that everyone learns. Guitar, everyone holds it different, strums or picks the strings different, and so on.


What do you like most about your new album A Soul in Time?

The signature sound it has. It has a band sound, and bridges, which are sorely missing in today's music. The songs are not just repetitive grooves for people to solo over. It's also not mundane or monotonous. It’s the perfect album. The music washes over you and everything fits. It is truly one of the best recordings I have ever heard


What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?

I normally listen to online radio, like Groovesalad.comradioguitarone.com and YouTube.


How do you promote your band and shows?

Online is the only avenue these days. Websites, social media platforms, radio.




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