Along with Gary Thomas, Greg Osby is one of the more interesting figures associated with Brooklyn’s M-Base collective. Soul music is at the root of his style, but its influence is manifested in two ways. Taken at its most literal, it gives birth to the Grover Washington styled instrumental soul heard in Lo-Fi and to a lesser degree in For Here To Go.
These renditions are fine but there is more stimulation in the jittery combination of funk, polytonality and chromaticism heard on such as Cad’lack Back and On A Mission. The groove in this case remains four-four and right in the pocket, but the oblique harmony and melody will assuredly not earn Man-Talk a place in the Soul 100.
Another effective variation on funk orthodoxy is heard in 2th (Twooth), where excitement is created by gradual speeding and slowing of tempo. However, this attempt is not as successful as the Osby’s band rendition in London’s Jazz Café earlier this year.
As a soloist, Osby has an excellent tone, a strong sense of development and controls dissonance with skill. There are also good moments from Gary Thomas, who characteristically employs precipitate 16th triplet units over the slow funk of On A Mission. Ed Simon plays some fine Hancock/Jarrett inspired piano, while Gilmore supplies angular, harmonically oblique lines which recall John Scofield’s Still Warm period. An often engaging album, but if you feel tempted, hear Gary Thomas’s By Any Means Necessary first.
Cad’Lack Back; For Here To Go; Man-Talk; Like So; On A Mission; Lo-Fi; Balaka; Black Moon (For Geri); Carolla; 2th (Twooth) (54.17)
Collective personnel: Osby (as/ss/kyb); Edward Simon (p/kyb); Michael Cain (kyb); Chan Johnson (elg); David Gilmore (elg/g syn); Lonnie Plaxico (b); James Genus (elb); Billy Kilson (d); Steve Moss (pc). Plus guests: Steve Coleman (as); Gary Thomas (ts/f); Hochmad Ali Akkbar (v). Brooklyn, NY, October & November 1990.
(Blue Note CDP 7 95414 2)