Greg Osby Four | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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When alto saxophonist Greg Osby released Banned in New York (Blue Note), an authorized bootleg recorded on a minidisc machine, in 1998, he said it was an attempt to keep pace with his musical development: by the time a studio recording came out, he'd already moved on to something new--from hip-hop fusion, for example, to his telepathically tight improvisations with pianist Jason Moran. Public (Blue Note) is his first live album since, and though Osby's style has stabilized since the 90s, he hasn't settled down. On last year's St. Louis Shoes he and guest trumpeter Nicholas Payton kicked new life into some seemingly exhausted jazz standards--"Shaw 'Nuff," "Summertime," "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo"--with harmonically radical rearrangements. Public, recorded in January at New York's Jazz Standard, is in the same vein: the Monk-ish "Rising Sun" and "Visitation" are based on the harmonic material of Osby's "Mistrale" and the Toots Thieleman classic "Bluesette," respectively. Payton shows up to reprise some tracks from St. Louis Shoes, and their lines snake around each other with astonishing precision. The closer features Joan Osborne--whom Osby met through semiregular jam sessions with the Dead--giving a calm, pretty reading of "Lover Man." This is Osby's first album with his fine new pianist, Megumi Yonezawa; although she's less rhythmically bold than Moran, she shares with him a melodic sensibility influenced by Andrew Hill. Bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Eric McPherson fill out the lineup. $12. Friday, July 30, 9 PM, and Saturday, July 31, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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