547

Greg Osby: 9 Levels

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Greg Osby: 9 Levels After ending a sixteen year tenure with Blue Note Records, leaving his signature as one of the most forward thinking, outspoken, and at times misunderstood artists in contemporary jazz, saxophonist/composer Greg Osby returns with 9 Levels, the first release on his new Inner Circle Music label.

The music which is based upon Osby's perspective on the Zen like principles of "The 9 Levels of Humanity," personifies the artist: geometric time signatures, hip modernistic imprints, blues and bop touches and some new surprises, delivered with the usual high level of musicianship. The sharp movements of Osby's horn and music are intact but the recording speaks of a freshness that is free from the constraints of normal conventions and is articulated by a new band of rising artists who are poised to leave their own marks.

Osby has many times surrounded himself and nurtured emerging talent (pianist Jason Moran, drummer Rodney Green, singer Joan Osborne, to name a few) and this new group of bright leaders is no exception.

Joseph Lepore (bass) and Hamir Atwal (drums) create the robust rhythm section that admirably handles the labyrinthine changes and deep grooves in "Principle" or the swing bop backbone in "Truth." Dual-chorded ensembles can be tricky at times but here, Adam Birnbaum (piano) and Nir Felder (guitar) deliver the goods with great aplomb by comping, soloing, and filling in the creative gaps with total ease.

The sextet's sixth element is found in the unique vocals of singer Sara Serpa from Lisboa, Portugal. Her voice a finely tuned instrument, serious scattin' on "Truth," choral phrases on "Humility" or wordless touches like a painter's brushstrokes on canvass on the lovely abstract piece "Tolerance."

Continued surprises are found in two non-Osby pieces, "Less Tension Please" and "Two of One." The former has a mix of European classic-like overtones and where each band member contributes beautifully; the later with rustic sounds of Felder's slide guitar and Serpa's soothing lyrics.

The complexity of Osby is found in his music—searching, trying new things, and fighting conformity. Even within individual compositions there is constant flux as heard in the stunning works "Innocence" and "Optimism"(which also contains a nice hidden track). Similar to any art-form, some will or will not appreciate or comprehend it. But for Osby fans and those seeking more than just the usual, 9 Levels is a welcome return of a conceptualist who is in constant pursuit of new ideas.

Track Listing: Principle; Tolerance; Humility; Truth; Less Tension Please; Resilience; Two Of One; Innocence; Optimism.

Personnel: Greg Osby: alto and soprano saxophones; Sara Serpa: voice; Adam Birnbaum: piano; Nir Felder: guitar; Joseph Lepore: bass; Hamir Atwal: drums.

Title: 9 Levels | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Collectables" CD/LP/Track Review Collectables
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Two Of A Kind" CD/LP/Track Review Two Of A Kind
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Natural Perception" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Perception
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 5, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.