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Greg Osby: A Candid Conversation

Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

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GO: Freedom of expression is the result of knowing what choices to make. If you don't know what choices to make through study and acknowledgment of history and making yourself aware of the environment you're in, then how are you to know the decisions you are making are going to be sound? Many people have and are dismissive of the precedents that have been established within the music. It's like running out into traffic with a blindfold on. You have to know. You have to have your sensibilities honed, and you have to know the game. You have to know the laws in order to break them, to alter them or to modify them.

LP: Are you aware of where your inspiration or creativity comes from?

GO: That's a very interesting question, but I would have to contend that there are certain biological characteristics that are inherent in people from different ethnic origins and backgrounds. It's self-evident when you see children of one ethnic group embrace certain characteristics in music or they find a beat or a rhythm. They latch onto certain melodic circumstances, and some people just don't. People can argue that, but it's self-evident. I don't want to say that means someone is dominant, but some people are predisposed to certain tendencies, and that's just the way it is. But I don't want to generalize because that's like saying all Asians are computer whizzes and all Indians are predisposed to being doctors. It's quite ridiculous, but there is an abundance of aptitudes, such as young black children that can dance as soon as they can walk. They can find the beat or the rhythm. That's almost racist in and of itself in saying that all black children are predisposed to be entertainers or basketball players.

LP: Can you connect music politically, spiritually or socially?

GO: I try not to be detached from what's going on, but outwardly, I'm not making any bold political statements because the politics that I abide by are my own politics. I don't abide by the politics of a 60-plus-year-old, silver-haired white guy in Congress. We don't share the same aptitude, the same aspirations, nor are we born of the same environment. There isn't any way that they can see my world or have any empathy for it. So the politics and ideals that I'm presenting in my music are based upon a historical precedent of personal philosophies of self-preservation, motivation and a progressive, reckless, relentless curious spirit. That also includes continued growth and prosperity through development and continued learning, and that's what it should be about and not about taking arts programs out of schools to provide money for national defense or close libraries so that we can manufacture more biological synthetic viruses. They have their agenda, and I have mine.

LP: What have you learned about yourself from all the risks you have taken?

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