“Zero” represents Greg Osby’s 3rd release for Blue Note records and perhaps his finest recording to date. Osby’s inaugural Blue Note release “Art Forum” sported a 360-degree turn for this artist. Having been a long time collaborator with Steve Coleman and Cassandra Wilson in the “Mbase” days, Osby subsequently turned his creative juices towards Hip-Hop and the results were less than satisfying. “Art Forum” was a stylish entry into the modern jazz scene and re-established Osby as a major talent on the rise. Osby’s 2nd release for Blue Note, “Further Ado” saw the advent of young piano phenom Jason Moran along with a cast of veteran jazz session musicians. “Further Ado” was fairly weak compositionally and lacked identity. Not a bad outing but at times sounded forced and hastily produced. On “Zero” Osby is backed by a fine bunch of young musicians who display earnest intentions and well-schooled technical attributes.The opener, “Sea of Illusion” demonstrates Greg Osby’s easily identifiable technique and signature sound. On “Sea of Illusion” Osby artfully blends melody and dissonance in an angular yet rapid-fire fashion. His attack and execution is flawless. Osby tap dances over his alto sax, alluding to his disclosure of thinking like a pianist. Not just a technician, Osby emits fire and emotion; thus making every note count. Perhaps if Bud Powell were an alto saxophonist he would have sounded something like Greg Osby? On “Interspacial Affair” the young pianist Jason Moran displays wit and maturity with pervasive chord structures and strong dynamics. Moran superfluous sense of dynamics frequently prods Osby into taking several engaging, razor sharp alto and soprano sax solos. “Minstrale” is Osby’s salutation to the fine jazz pianist Andrew Hill. Subtle melodic phrasing with traces of Monk, Moran captures the spirit of Andrew Hill in illustrious fashion. On “Nekide” drummer Rodney Green opens up with some nifty, dexterous stick work although he seems somewhat cautious or at times hesitant to mix it up on most of these cuts. “Deuce Ana Quota” is a lazy funk-blues romp and reminiscent of early 1970’s Lou Donaldson. Moran works the Hammond B-3 while guitarist Kevin McNeal strums delicate blues riffs to augment the spirited feel of the rhythm section. Osby is the bandleader and it shows in most instances. Despite the hefty dose of soloing and improvisation the band is tight and well rehearsed under Osby’s direction. No doubt Greg Osby has the stuff to become a world-beater. His enormous talents as a composer and saxophonist have seldom been scrutinized. Blue Note records and Greg Osby have forged a strong relationship and with his current band the future looks that much brighter for jazz.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!