Recorded live at New York’s Jazz Standard this past January, Public combines standards and originals in a program that features Greg Osby’s unique alto saxophone timbre and witty musical conversation. Like Monk, the artist enjoys a light use of dissonance in his uplifting interpretations. His cohesive quartet/quintet reaches deep inside and draws up the emotion.
What better way to explore from within than through “Summertime”? Osby and Nicholas Payton converse on its theme while piano, bass and drums spread around them like the wind and the rain. The song speaks of fish jumpin’ and easy livin’. Trumpeter and saxophonist capture that essence accurately as they ramble over a subtle New Orleans shuffle. Their teamwork provides a superior dreamscape where Porgy and Bess can relax while the rest of the world has to hustle in the background. With bared emotion, Osby leads his ensemble beyond mere discussion.
While the saxophonist’s interpretation of standards settles in gently with conviction, his modern mainstream originals give the audience much to digest. Intricately woven, with a lot going on inside, Osby’s pearls maintain an outer appearance of staid dignity. Like Charlie Parker, he digs into the music with a fierce passion, still keeping the overall picture smooth and graceful. At times mathematical and at times dense, his inner structures provide sources for unending interest. All the while, Osby’s ensemble wraps each piece in a blanket of tradition.
Recommended, Public gives the audience a heartfelt interpretation that is rooted in the work of Diz, Bird, Monk and Billie, but impressively built and expanded upon the adventures created by Greg Osby.