Greg Osby Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Aug. 29, 9 p.m. and Sat., Aug. 30, 8 p.m. 2008

For more than 15 years, saxophonist and bandleader Greg Osby has consistently demonstrated a tech savviness rare in jazz—in the late 90s he cut a live album with a MiniDisc recorder, and he was posting free MP3s on his Web site long before it became the norm. He’s also been upholding a tradition that’s just as rare today, using his bands as a kind of finishing school, a la Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, to mentor potent young players and give them a high-profile platform—Osby alumni include pianist Jason Moran, drummer Rodney Green, and bassist Matt Brewer. He hasn’t released much since parting ways with Blue Note a couple years ago, but for the fine new 9 Levels (available digitally on his own Inner Circle label, with a CD version forthcoming) he’s assembled an unusual group with guitarist Nir Felder, drummer Hamir Atwal, bassist Joseph Lepore, pianist Adam Birnbaum, and a Portuguese singer, Sara Serpa, whom he discovered on MySpace. They handle his twisty postbop compositions with impressive fluidity and clarity, darting through precise arrangements marked by running contrapuntal commentary and taut unison figures—Serpa is especially impressive, her wordless vocals locked to Osby’s sax lines in perfect tune. For these shows vibraphonist Matt Pinto replaces Birnbaum. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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