A La Jazz Rendezvous 2001 The Cleveland Play House Cleveland, Ohio
Since 1984, when he hooked up with Steve Coleman to form the M-BASE Collective, Greg Osby has been at the forefront of some of the more exploratory movements of the modern jazz era. He has released eleven albums as a leader for Blue Note to date, including collaborations with Joe Lovano and Andrew Hill. Currently, his latest endeavor for the label is due this summer and to support the album he’s now in the midst of a two-month tour with his quartet. Rounding out an exemplary cast of young artists, Osby fronts this group with fellow Blue Note leader Jason Moran on piano, Calvin Jones on bass, and Marvin Broween on drums. The fourth and final performance of the A La Jazz Rendezvous concert series held at the Cleveland Play House, Osby’s quartet hit the stage of the Bolton Theatre for a Sunday afternoon performance before a very small, but appreciative audience. What became evident very early on was that Broween’s mesmerizing work was crucial to the overall development of each piece, confirming that old axiom that an ensemble is only as strong as its drummer. Osby knows how to tell a story with his horn and in addition to a very sweet tone, his mellifluous forays help make him a challenging player who is also able to connect with an audience. The same could really be said for Moran, a very versatile musician whose range takes in everything from funk to Cecil Taylor-like abstractions. Osby and crew leaped into the first set without much fanfare, as each tune segued to the next. There were no announcements, save for Osby’s obligatory band introductions at the end of the set. Although his own originals were certainly memorable, Osby did an exceptional job of redefining a few standards. “Night and Day” made the most of Moran’s low register chords, creatively reharmonized, and a lively bossa tempo. A Blue Note gem from another era, Lou Donaldson’s “Alligator Boogaloo” found Osby preachin’ with gusto and Moran opening things up with a dense and tempestuous solo display. The second set hit another fine balance between originals and standards. “Jitterbug Waltz” had Osby giving things a different twist by laying slightly behind the beat. During the saxophonist’s solo, Broween’s displaced triplets created a varied and highly interactive background, which in turn enticed Osby. Closing out the afternoon, Monk’s “Bye-Ya” and Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” were choice items for this quartet, a highly integrated unit that certainly has to be one of the best groups Osby has assembled to date.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.