Take Five With Osaru

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Meet Osaru:

Osaru is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer. He owns and runs a production house in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, where he is working on a variety of Smooth Jazz and R&B projects.

His second CD, Home With The Keys, is smooth jazz at its best. From silky soprano phrases in "Last Night..." to funky tenor sax lines in "Let's Begin," he expresses himself to the fullest, using his keyboards, a breath controller and his wind controller. His background training as a physician is many a time evident in the meticulous craftsmanship of his songs and bedside manner in which he delivers his message.

Some of his music has been compared to Kenny G, Paul Hardcastle and Norman Brown. Osaru started playing African percussion at the age of eight, church organ at nine and toured as a cover band keyboardist in his teens. Today he plays the electric keyboards, piano, electric bass, WX5 wind controller, drums and percussion. He sings and plays all the instruments on both his albums. Musical influences include Paul Hardcastle, George Benson, Kenny G and Stanley Clarke. He is currently working on his third CD.


Keyboards, piano, WX5 wind controller, drums, electric bass.

Teachers and/or influences?

George Benson, Paul Hardcastle, Kenny G, Stanley Clarke, Boney James, etc.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I would watch the choir at church and marvel at how the instrumentalists and the choir could change the whole mood of the church service. I guess that is how I first experienced the great power of musical expression.

Your sound and approach to music:

I always try and keep it real by expressing myself exactly the way I feel. My music is a direct extension of my inner thoughts and often tells the 'untold truths' using a combination of melodic saxophone phrasing, jazzy guitar riffs, catchy piano solos and 'driving' mid tempo percussive rhythms. Each song I write tells a story which is sometimes happy, sometimes sad, and sometimes a mixture of both. Indeed, sometimes I leave the story 'open' for the listener to use their imagination to 'fill in the gaps' and come up with their own interpretation. When it's time to put my producer hat on, I try and keep my soundscapes full, but uncluttered using a variety of mixing and arranging techniques learned over the years. This is probably one of the most exciting parts of the song creation. Creating the elusive 'perfect mix.' I always send my songs out for mastering (even after using various post production tools to enhance my mix)

Your teaching approach:

Understand the basics and principles of music and you will be able to apply that to any instrument you play. Practice whenever you can consistently. Do not try to fly before you can walk. Stay focused. Enjoy what you do. If you are not feeling it, something is wrong somewhere. Step back and try to figure out what and where the problem is and fix it.

Your dream band:

Yannick Rieu ,Dave Grusin, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Norman Brown, Boney James, Kenny G and Stevie Wonder.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Opening up the show with a keyboard solo in the wrong key. Oops!... The vocalist never forgave me for that.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Probably "Last Night..." from my CD Home With the Keys. This song was written late one night after putting the kids to bed. It was unplanned, kind of spur-of- the-moment thing. I did not follow any of my usual 'songwriting rules' that night. I just played and played... and let the recorder run. I liked what I heard when I listened to it the next day. Maybe it was the unusual chord progressions or the conga in the background, or maybe the silky smooth sax phrasing and the electric piano, mingling with the strings, rising to a crescendo... Whatever it was, I loved it and played it over and over again. "Last Night..." is featured in my latest CD, Home With the Keys. The music video is now on YouTube and Vimeo. It is probably one of my most popular songs today.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

George Benson and Earl Klugh, Collaboration.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Music everyone can relate to. It transcends age, race, sex, religion etc. It is relaxing, inspirational and has a laid back groove. Home With the Keys has a song for every occasion.

Did you know...

I have no formal music training.

CDs you are listening to now:

Sade, Soldier of Love; Sony Music ;

Paul Hardcastle, Jazzmasters: The Smooth Cuts (Hardcastle Records).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Alive and kicking, but changing every day. I believe more people are beginning to appreciate jazz and its various sub-genres (or maybe I am just getting older?). There are also many more sub-genres than there were say 10 to 15 years ago making room for a wider audience. A lot of this is not 'straight-ahead jazz.' However I feel that's the beauty of jazz. It dares to be different.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Actively promote jazz in the community. Encourage creativity and improvisation.

What is in the near future?

I plan to release a new single later on in the year followed by a new album out early next year.

By Day:


If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Graphic designer or film maker.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Osaru


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