One way of getting a handle on a jazz artist's style is a perusal of their "played with," "recorded with" resume. Danish drummer Kresten Osgood
has collaborated in the recording studio with the likes of pianists Paul Bley
and Masabumi Kikuchi
, bassist Mark Dresser
and saxophonist Sam Rivers
free-flying iconoclasts all. The drummer/bandleader lives up to that characterisation here. Kristen Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz
, a wide-tanging two CD set, explores some lesser-known tunes from some of music history's freer thinkers, beginning with Eric Dolphy
's "Gazzeloni," from Dolphy's best known album, Out to Lunch
(Blue Note, 1964). Osgood's take on the tune is rawer than the original, wilder and more free-ranging. It sounds like the free jazz outfit that pianist Cecil Taylor
put together for Unit Structures
(Blue Note, 1966), herded here, like cats, into more of a semblance of structurebrilliant in its audacity and fire.
That opener sets the flexible template for the careening, two disc, eighty-plus minute ride.
Osgood and his team of intrepid young Danes take on tunes by pianist Randy Weston
, bluesman James Cotton, pianist Elmo Hope
, three contributions from Thelonious Monk
including "'Round Midnight," the set's closeralong with music from Charles Mingus
and Miles Davis
, with a few Osgood originals fitting nicely into the mix.
The group's approach to the set's first two Monk tunes is worth noting. Most interpreters round off the music's sharp edges and push the angles out closer to ninety degrees. Osgood's unit takes things in the opposite direction, making the sound wilder, less domesticated. "Brilliant Corners" features a rolling, rumbling piano solo from Jeppe Zeeberg that sounds like storm clouds tumbling in off the cold ocean, followed by a restrained thunder roll of Osgood's drums. On "Friday The 13th" the band elbows Monk's structure out of shape, with Zeeberg stabbing sharp notes into the bandsaw of Mads Egetoff's raw tenor sax sound, before trumpeter Erik Kimesteadsitting in for the French horn on Monk's Prestige Records rendition of the tuneblows initially in a minimalistic mode before shifting into jagged clusters of notes, leading into bassist voice of reason bass lines statement.
"'Round Midnight," Monk's signature tune (if there is one), is taken in a more traditional fashion, with more of an adherence to the melody, that is underlain by a wash of a cool droneeither electronics or an organthat gives the sound more of a sad and haunted feeling than that imbued by the wee hours melody.
Also of note is the Miles Davis contribution, "Water Babies," the title tune of the trumpeter's 1976 (recorded in 1967) Columbia Records outing. Grittier than the original, with saxophonist Egetoft's rough edges on full display, the band pushes things forward with an understated-yet-implacable momentum, a low level turmoil that turns down the lights into film noir territory on an originally (relatively, for Davis) bright sound.
Then there is Charles Mingus' "Reincarnation Of A Lovebird," the title tune from his 1960 Candid Records release; and Duke Ellington
's "Star-Crossed Lovers," from the Such Sweet Thunder
(Columbia Records, 1957) album. The former is a perfect capture of the Mingus spirit, the latter the most unabashedly beautiful and pensive (yet still adventurous) moment of a terrific two disc set from drummer Kresten Osgood and his crack quintet.