It is always exciting to think about what might happen when two of your favorite artists decide to team up and produce a new collaboration. But it can also be a disappointment when the result sounds a bit like a tug-of-war between two visions, or a competition between the two artists. NOW not only avoids the these pitfalls, but it soars above them with rare and wonderful transcendence. Indeed, it may do for Piano and Electric Guitar what Crystal Silence did for Piano and Vibraphone.
When Alex and Gary came into the studio this summer, the ink was still a bit wet on the compositions each had contributed to this project. Each of them had written music based on their own intrinsic rules, but also with the other musician well in mind. Neither had played any of the pieces together before, but both had shared their own desktop demos with each other to review during down time on the road before the session.
Early on Alex tipped his hand when he heard a wrong note coming from the piano. Gary responded that he was only playing what was written, to which Alex replied “then I typed the wrong note. I never write dominant chords.” Maybe that’s why Alex’s writing does not sound rote! In any case, they quickly sorted out the rough spots and that’s when I began to hear the magic happen.
The magic to which I refer is a relationship beyond playing changes together, beyond call and response. The relationship I heard time and again was that of telepathic anticipation. Alex would set up a structure that Gary would blast through with virtuosic runs and complex rhythmic modulations. As the notes of the piano decay, you wonder “how’s Alex going to respond to that?” you hear Alex already holding a chord that not only answers the “now”, but embodies the entire NOW, from beginning to end. Musically, it is the amazing that borders on the unbelievable.
Chick Corea sums up the result of this collaboration quite well when he says “Gary Husband and Alex Machacek have co-created an amazing piece of modern music which goes beyond categories with “Now”. The compositions and forms that they have made to expand and improvise with are adventurous and magical.” He says some other nice things, too, but reading them will be your reward when you get the CD.