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Interviews

A Fireside Chat With Greg Osby

By Published: November 29, 2003

Like I said to you in the beginning, Fred, I'm revamping my sound and my direction, composition and the band. At this point, I am kind of leaning towards being guitar-based. There are a couple of guitarists that I am interested in because to be quite honest, there are not any other piano players that I like enough to come behind Jason. I'd hate to put it out there like that even though there are some great stylists in their own right, but a lot of people are too established and too set in their ways to follow my lead or to give me what I think I need unless I find another unknown.

I pulled Jason out of college and so if I find another youngster in college that has prodigious talent, then it may happen, but it has just become difficult to travel with piano. It will be a lot easier to travel with guitar and it will change the sound too. I look forward to change.

FJ: Trio or quartet?

GO: Quartet. I'm going to do some trio things too, but without piano or guitar, just sax, bass, and drums. I have some guys. I have Damion Reid on drums. His father is Richard Reid (bassist). He's from Los Angeles and he's an outstanding young drummer. I fluctuate between him and Eric Harland. Eric Harland is back in the fold again, as well as I've been doing a couple of things with Ed Simon again on piano. We will just see.

The bass chair, I am kind of playing musical chairs with that because I haven't really settled on somebody who is solid enough to give me what I need. They have to be very, very well versed in a great deal of music, not just jazz, swinging real hard and walking bass and all that kind of stuff. Somebody who is too entrenched in that, I would recognize it as a debilitating situation because they will play up to expectations and I really don't want that.

FJ: Do you have another album in the can?

GO: I don't have anything in the can, but I have about four albums worth of material already ready and I don't know which one to do first yet. Bruce Lundvall, he wants me to do a standards recording.

FJ: Not another concept record.

GO: No, I'm giving it my own treatment. I had to tell him that if I do the recording, you won't recognize these songs at all. They will sound like I wrote them and he said that that is exactly what he knew I would do. So I am kind of considering that and I have a tentative lineup of either Jack DeJohnette or Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Holland or Christian McBride, Jason Moran or Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

So we will see what happens. I have everybody on hold and so it is kind of an availability thing. I already have my arrangements together and like I said, these songs will barely be recognizable unless I do an obvious melodic quote.

FJ: How many records do you have left on this contract?

GO: I don't really know. It may be one, but we've already discussed re-upping because it is just my home. I don't really know any other thing, any other situation. I would be a fish out of water anywhere else because they know me, they know what to expect from me, they don't bother me.

"When are you going to do another record?"

I tell them when and I deliver it. They don't come to the studio. They don't make questions or suggestions. Bruce has just made this request because it is just something he'd like to hear. He likes the way I interpret the standards that I incorporate in my sets.

Of course, I wouldn't leave any stone unturned. I also have this organ trio with Jason and Eric Harland and guitarist Liberty Ellman that I would like to record too. I did a few of those tracks on my Zero recording, but I'd like to do a whole thing and really revitalize that institution. I also have a trio with Bobby Previte and Charlie Hunter. We played the Knitting Factory two weeks ago and we intend to record that as well. There are a lot of irons in the fire. There are many things happening. I would like to do a duo recording with Jason, but now, I spoke with Andrew Hill yesterday and now he wants to do a duo recording.

So there is so much to do and so few opportunities. I can't record all these things for the label. They only grant one a year. That's when this whole independent thing keeps coming up. I should do my own recordings and I should put them out on my own because that is the frustration that Prince had when he was writing slave on his face. They want him to do one record a year. Cats are too prolific to be confined to that release schedule.

There is also the element of saturation and just because you crank out more, doesn't mean that they're all good. I know a lot of people that are very prolific, but the quality is questionable at best. That would have to be mapped out because anything that is in direct competition with contracted products, it could get pretty hairy, but that could be done.



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