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By dedicating pieces to specific jazz masters, Greg Osby honors the tradition without repeating it. High on individuality since he joined Blue Note in 1990, the saxophonist has daredon past albumsto introduce jazz to funk, hip-hop, street poetry and more. His creative freshness is what drives him. It's that uniqueness of spirit that moves each of Osby's projects up a notch. This time out, it's a string quartet.
By writing sensual counterpoint for the string quartet and having his piano trio match their mood stride for stride, Osby is free to turn his saxophone loose. His improvisation winds around the script, jabbing the air with that recognizably gritty tone. The session centers on beauty: expressed through sonorous timbre combinations, harmonic impressions, and written work. "Wild is the Wind" is the classic Johnny Mathis hit. Osby performs it in the lower register, purring as a balladeer. "Golden Sunset" was written by Andrew Hill. Osby and pianist Jason Moran perform it as a duet, with powerful majesty. Several of the tunes swing, while much of the session offers dramatic impressionism. Greg Osby continues to carve his way into an ever-changing jazz scene that wants to grow but doesn't yet know which roads to follow.
Track Listing: 3 for Civility; Repay in Kind; "M"; The Keep; Golden Sunset; This is Bliss; One Room; Northbound; Wild is the Wind; Social Order; Minstrale Again (The Barefoot Tapdance).
Personnel: Greg Osby: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone (3, 7); Jason Moran: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Marlon Browden: drums; Christian Howes: violin; Marlene Rice-Shaw: violin; Judith Insell-Stack: viola; Nioka Kim Workman: cello.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.