Both Ted Nash and Tom Harrell have explored the "double quartet" concept. Now we can add to the list Greg Osby, whose music sounds nothing at all like theirs. Supplementing his working quartet (Jason Moran, Scott Colley, Marlon Browden) with a string quartet, Osby heightens the dark, austere quality of his harmonies. This results in some of the most moving music of Osby’s career. On the whole, it’s more striking and focused than last year’s Invisible Hand.
It also features some of Jason Moran’s best playing on record.
Wisely, Osby doesn’t run the strings concept into the ground: Andrew Hill’s "Golden Sunset" is a sax/piano duo, as is the closing "Minstrale Again (The Barefoot Tapdance)." Strings appear only at the beginning of "One Room." And "Wild Is the Wind," the old Johnny Mathis hit, is performed without strings or drums. The sound of the album never gets old. Osby’s originals are strong, particularly "Northbound," which features his most inspired horn playing on the date. Other highlights include Moran’s "Repay In Kind" and Masabumi Kikuchi’s "M."