Thursday, June 10, 2004

Greg Osby - Public (Blue Note, 2004)

Greg Osby's new record is a live album recorded live in New York City early this year. There's a mix of tunes that were recorded on Osby's last studio album Inner Circle as well as some standards. Osby is joined by Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Robert Hurst on bass, Megumi Yonezawa on piano, Rodney Green on drums and special guest Joan Osborne on vocals.

The band is tight and has an excellent sound together live. There is a bit of a difference between this and his last live recording - the somewhat lo-fi DAT recording Banned in New York. Osby and Patton make a particularly interesting front line on the old Parker and Gillespie standard "Shaw Nuff." Their reading of the melody is fun with the trumpet and alto saxophone intertwined during the statement of the urgent melody and one of the two leads (or both) playing a one note tag just after the melody statement. Then the group enters a blasting improvisation.

Finally, there is a version of the standard "Lover Man" with Joan Osborne singing. This works very well - Osborne's voice is appropriately sultry and she sings very well. The group backs her well, especially the leader who floats around her vocals with a beautiful light tone.

The band works very well in this context - Osby and Payton are a very interesting front line and the new piano player lives up to his billing (big shoes to fill replacing Jason Moran.) Fans of mainstream jazz should be very happy with the results.

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