Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Greg Osby on AAJ


Saint Louis Jazz Notes alerted me to Greg Osby's presence on the AAJ boards. Some choice excerpts:

On the current jazz scene:
The only thing that is truly guaranteed is that the music will continue to advance at a snail's pace, conceptually speaking, because the artist line-ups at concerts don't change. Many artists refuse to challenge themselves stylistically or dare to hire young unknowns that may provoke them. So they and promoters take the easy route - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". This sameness in the quality and methodology of recordings, performances and educational techniques has resulted in a grand apathy towards the music and is a definite repellant to potential new patrons.

On bandstand interaction:
And yes, there is a great deal of directing that goes on during our performances. I have subtle cues that are set up that everyone in the band is aware of. These transitions may happen at any time, during any composition so the players must be "all ears" during the entirety of the set. Daydreaming isn't an option. Once the cues are learned and the band knows what to listen for, that's when the real magic happens as the way that the compositions are played varies dramatically each night. Fast pieces become ballads and vice-versa, rhythmic modulations, direct transitions, compound metrics and a great deal of harmonic variants and personal approaches - all make for some unpredictable musical journeys. Sometimes the results are disastrous, but the truth is in the recovery.

Turns of phrase I like:
...at the major clubs many of the older cats would welcome you if you wanted to sit in. It's different now becasue many artists play original music and unless you can hear around corners sitting in is out of the question.

There's an audience for you out there. you just have to figure out how to connect with them, draw them in , and then lock the door so they can't get away....

On keeping the edge:
For the "Inner Circle" session there were only 2 rehearsals, as is my normal custom. I don't believe in rehearsing the soul out of the music by overdoing it. If the guys get the concepts, understand the forms, and can play what I wrote, then that's half the battle. I actually prefer that the pieces still feel a little foreign to the musicians - even during the recording process. I feel that the music has a bit of an edge if they are a little uncomfortable and haven't worked out little turns and devices that they intend to play. (There's nothing worse than a solo that sounds prepared or worked out!) As a result, there are many mistakes that I sometimes leave intact on the recordings if the vibe is satisfactory to me or if someone expresses themselves well during a great solo. I don't see the need in having every phrase played to note perfection. The music is sometimes difficult enough with out my guys having the pressure of nailing every little thing. This isn't classical music, and as much as the recordings should reflect what I am attempting as a composer, they should allow for the intellect and personalities of the the musicians to flourish as well.