Facebook tells us it’s Greg Osby’s birthday. Hat’s off, G. The Village Vanguard sched tells us the saxophonist is playing there next week. Hat’s off, G. Here’s a blab I wrote about him a couple years ago. And what about that video clip above? Yikes!
The notion of group unity is what makes Greg Osby’s Quartet such joy to behold. The middle-aged alto saxophonist has a distinctive – some say odd – way of scripting his original tunes, but because he’s schooled several younger players over the last decade, his music sounds both singular and natural. I think that second designation is crucial when it comes to enjoying jazz. Vanguard musicians often have keen ideas regarding composition or instrumentation, but the craft needed to give the music its balance is missing. Osby’s a forward thinker who concocted a mildly peculiar funk-inflected rhythmic scheme back in late ’80s, and then stayed in the lab until all the rough spots were gone – a heroic move, methinks. His ensembles are constantly changing, but each has been a gripping forum for musical patterns both skewed and straight. Mysterious, compelling, and unusual. With Osby’s stuff, you never know what’s coming next.