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Greg Osby: Symbols of Light (A Solution) (2001)

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Greg Osby: Symbols of Light (A Solution) No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

I love any kind of string-driven thing. From guitars to fiddles...it’s all good. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this alto player accompanied by his rhythm section and a spry string quartet.

Saxophonist Greg Osby puts together a unique gathering of sounds as he harnesses (or is it – unleashes) seven musicians of quality and compassion. The rhythm section includes: Jason Moran (piano), Scott Colley (bass) and Marlon Browden (drums/percussion). Then there’s the added richness of the string quartet with Marlene Rice-Shaw and Christian Bowes (violins), Judith Insell-Stack (viola) and Nioka Workman (cello).

“I interviewed a few string players about various bowing techniques, tremelos, pizzicato, and the ranges where they might sound the best,” Osby explains in the liner notes. “Some of the pieces feature ‘voice crossing’, with the cello on top, and voilin or viola in the extreme lower register. I also wanted the string players, who don’t normally have many opportunities to improvise, to have melodic options,” Osby explains.

Osby rarely performs on soprano, but he does here. “I’m a low register kind of guy, also on alto.” It’s his sound combined with his free flowing, searching style that gives the gang their direction. It’s nice and easy, but unpredictable and curious. Osby is almost in the background, lurking, pouncing when moved. The feeling is light and airy with the strings adding texture. This would be a hot item with just the rhythm section fronted by Osby. We are definitely offered a full plate. Enjoy.


Track Listing: 1. 3 for Civility 2. Repay in Kind 3. "M" 4. Keep 5. Golden Sunset 6. This Is Bliss 7. One Room 8. Northbound 9. Wild Is the Wind 10. Social Order 11. Minstrale Again (the Barefoot Tap Dance)

Personnel: Greg Osby (saxophone), Jason Moran (piano), Scott Colley (bass), Marlon Browden (drums/percussion), Marlene Rice-Shaw and Christian Bowes (violins), Judith Insell-Stack (viola), Nioka Workman (cello).

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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