Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband ‘Tor & Vale’
by Bill Milkowski

A true meeting of the spirits, Tor & Vale showcases the remarkable chemistry between two extraordinary players, guitarist Mark Wingfield and pianist Gary Husband. A gem of nuanced interaction and rare potency, this intimate session is brimming with sparkling call-and-response exchanges and dramatic rubato exploration between the intrepid improvisers. “This recording captures and reflects the mutual enthusiasm and easy kind of compatibility we found with each other that was present at all times throughout the sessions,” noted Husband. “None of it felt forced or seemed to require a lot of effort at all. It just happened, just as you hear it.” Recorded at La Casa Murada, a spacious studio located in a 12th century farmhouse in Catalonia (Spain) about an hour outside of Barcelona, Tor & Vale is comprised of five evocative Wingfield compositions and three purely improvised pieces, like the evocative 16-1/2-minute title track, that put a premium on space and find the two kindred spirits being wide open to the moment. “As soon as we started playing it was clear that there was an instant musical connection there and a willingness to really open up and explore,” said Wingfield. “We started the session with the composed pieces and things went so well that by the time we got to the improvised pieces we felt there was no need to discuss how to approach them.”

Husband explained that the intuitive nature of this Tor & Vale session has been part of his modus operandi for years. “I actually have the infuriating habit of listening to initial instruction or some kind of plan, only to then completely disregard it and let instinct and intuition take over,” he said. “I love the conversational, instinctive process to make it’s own way and present itself through us.” 

“Our wide range of common musical reference points meant that we were able to go on some extended improvised journeys,” added Wingfield. “Gary is such a great player and I knew his piano work, so I knew he was able to go way outside the usual jazz improvised format and reference lots of different musical worlds. I knew there was a real potential to do something like this with him but I had no idea beforehand that the session would go so well or that we would be able to communicate musically on the level we did.” 

The forward-thinking British electric guitarist is reshaping the sound of his instrument through his series of impressionistic recordings over the past decade. “Wingfield’s guitar playing is mysterious, majestic and blazing in turns,” wrote Guitar Player magazine while All About Jazz crowed, “Wingfield makes his guitar howl, sing and cry for mercy amid flickering single note runs” and Music That Matters simply called him a “six-string winged, improvising shaman.” 

Fellow Brit Husband has long been regarded as one of the great drummers on the scene for his fabled association, since 1979, with the late, legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth. A longtime doubler, he has also showcased his exceptional keyboard skills with his New Gary Husband Trio and Force Majeure, Billy Cobham’s Spectrum Band and John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension. Husband has also released two luminous solo piano recordings, The Things I See: Interpretations of the Music of Allan Holdsworth and A Meeting Of Spirits: Interpretations of the Music of John McLaughlin. 

Together, Mark Wingfield and Gary Husband made musical magic at La Casa Murada on Tor & Vale.