So here's the basic premise, a revival of the classic "jam session" pitting the saxophones of Joe Lovano and Greg Osby. But before you get the idea that this is one of those cutting contests, such as a duel between Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, think again. Cleveland, Ohio native Lovano, while acclaimed by both fans and critics alike, has always possessed a style that is accessible, but just slightly off the mainstream path. The same could be said for Osby, eight years Lovano's junior, but he's taken a course more attuned to the black vernacular of hip hop, funk, and other grooves.
Ultimately, Friendly Fire makes for a gutsy and compatible "give and take" that tastefully melds both players' musical sensibilities. Combining musicians from the groups of both leaders, the rhythm section consists of bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Idris Muhammad, along with young piano whiz and Osby discovery, Jason Moran.
Compositional chores are also divided evenly, with Osby and Lovano each contributing three tunes apiece, in addition to three resolute standards. The originals provide plenty of angular melodies, with those hairpin curves that lead everyone down the road less taken. Tempos shift, moods are altered within any one given tune, and both players make the most out of their ability to double on other saxophones and flute. It makes for a potent package that speaks well for the viability of this classic format and shows, as the old saying goes, that the whole can sometimes be greater than the sum of its parts.
Personnel: Joe Lovano, tenor & soprano sax and flute; Greg Osby, alto & soprano sax; Jason Moran, piano; Cameron Brown, bass; Idris Muhammad, drums
Track Listing: Geo J Lo, The Wild East, Serene, Broadway Blues, Monk's Mood, Idris, Truth Be Told, Silenos, Alexander the Great