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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

Morgan/Husband/Feraud "A Soul In Time" Review from

Guitarist James Morgan has composed five songs for this album together with guitarist and producer Dean Brown. The result is a mixture of jazz rock and what could perhaps be characterized as jazz fusion 2.0, following on from the fusion music of the 1970s, Billy Cobham and McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. Both are cited as references in a YouTube interview with James Morgan (see under Info). However, if you listen to the album, you may notice completely different references, such as the proximity to Deep Purple, Nice or Peter Green in “Samba Sky”.

It should also be mentioned at this point that the 1970s were certainly the heyday of the mixture of jazz and rock. Bands such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Spyra Gyra, Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Colosseum and the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble with a selection of the best jazz musicians of the day, from Volker Kriegel to Ian Carr and Charlie Mariano to Jon Hiseman and Barbara Thompson, come to mind. And their soundscapes also seem to experience a resurrection in the current album.

Morgan is joined on the album by Gary Husband, who is just as well-known as a drummer as he is as a keyboardist. Husband has recorded various albums with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and Allan Holdsworth, among others. Finally, Morgan's trio includes the French electric bassist Hadrien Feraud, who is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as Jaco Pastorious. Feraud has been heard on recordings with John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, among others. Saxophonist Eric Marienthaler and percussionist Joey De Leon joined him as guests for the recording of this album.

“On The Edge” is the album's lead track. It features a guitarist who conjures up clouds of sound with his guitar. It's all quite melodically interwoven and accompanied by a distinctive bass. Gary Husband rolls out a dense carpet of sound for us, thanks to a synthesizer. James Morgan lays a very rocking, wailing guitar sequence over this carpet. Alvin Lee would certainly like that, wouldn't he? Morgan's roughened sound lines are supported by strong drumming and Gary Husband is also very present as a keyboardist. So we experience him at times on the electric piano, according to the listening impression. A short percussion intro and then synth (?) and bass are on hand to determine the sound colorations of “A Feather's Touch”. There is no fragility to be experienced, but rather the density of rock music and the synth, which creates a “feathery bed of sound”. And then, yes, then there is a switch to an acoustic piano, whose keys Husband has under his fingers, cascading and sparkling.

It is striking that the trio is not a monolithic block, but that the individual musicians are able to break away into solo passages, including James Morgan, who allows us to experience a fine flow of sound. In general, there is a flow in the second track of the album, a flying carpet of sound, as it were. On the title track of the album, “A Soul in Time”, we also hear saxophonist Eric Marienthal. The sound then seems very similar to that of the United Jazz & Rock Ensemble, even if this ensemble was pure brass power. This is not the case here. Instead, Husband shines on the acoustic piano/grand piano, setting sound pearl after sound pearl, also firmly rooted in the bass and penetrating into the treble. As soon as you hear the saxophonist again, you get the impression that it's not just David Sanborn and his woodwinds that are resonating in your mind, but also a bit of soul. The interspersed bass solo to a “soulful” rhythm setting is very successful. And then you hear the penetrating saxophone playing, which is the focus of attention, effervescent, “market-cheerful”, exalted. This is the solo outcry before everyone returns to the theme.

“Eyes of Truth” reminds the reviewer here and there of The Alan Parsons Project. Husband can probably be heard again on the synth in this piece. That brings the piece closer to electronica beyond effects pedals, doesn't it? The longer the piece lasts, the more reminiscences of Fleetwood Mac come to mind in my opinion. And then comes the final chord with the very fast-paced “Samba Sky”. In between, you wonder whether Keith Emerson is even involved. No, that's not the case of course, but Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer shine through in the strong sound accentuation, in a reference and in the sound nuances that conjure up images of Emerson acting like a berserker on the keys. The omnipotence of the guitar sound penetrates the ear. You can experience flying key sequences that are almost reminiscent of classical concertante models.

Conclusion: Wow, what a brilliant album, which in the year 2024 evokes the times of the 1970s and beyond.

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