Greg Osby Five performs at the Village Vanguard.
Greg Osby Five performs at the Village Vanguard. John Rogers/johnrogersnyc.com
"All the Things You Are" (Jerome Kern)
"Autumn Wind" (Marc Copland)
"Round She Goes" (Marc Copland)
Live At The Village Vanguard is a popular monthly NPR Music webcast with video, chat room and simultaneous WBGO broadcast, masterminded by host Josh Jackson. On this episode of JazzSet, we pair highlights from two recent nights at The Vanguard, featuring music from the late sets — the stretch-out sets — for the first time.
This past August, alto saxophonist Greg Osby celebrated his 50th birthday with four of his favorite musicians, together for the first time as the Greg Osby Five. The leader and twentysomething guitarist Nir Felder float together like dancers. Osby's scouting and discovery of Felder and bassist Joseph Lepore helped him earn the tag "a walking recommendation engine" in The New York Times.
The Osby Five open with a modal reading of "All the Things You Are," the Jerome Kern tune that bebop players loved to play — think of the Charlie Parker recording with the Rachmaninoff set-up. Then they flow through two pieces with inner spin and momentum by pianist Marc Copland; he and Osby have already made two duo CDs together. Finally, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Osby are old friends and bandmates with the longest-running relationship in this Greg Osby Five. The music lies at the heart of a joyful occasion.
Personnel: Greg Osby, alto sax; Nir Felder, guitar; Marc Copland, piano; Joseph Lepore, bass; Terri Lyne Carrington, drums.
Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding performs at the Village Vanguard with the Joe Lovano Us Five, just a month before her Best New Artist win.
Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding performs at the Village Vanguard with the Joe Lovano Us Five, just a month before her Best New Artist win. John Rogers/johnrogersnyc.com
"Dewey Square" (Charlie Parker)
"Laura (excerpt)" (Johnny Mercer, David Raksin)
A dozen years ago, Osby and tenor/soprano saxophonist Joe Lovano made an album together called Friendly Fire. On tenor, Lovano has a romantic emotion in his tone. At times, he edges sideways into his melodies — I love those moments.
Here at the Village Vanguard, Lovano's Us Five comes with two drummers, exciting and musical together in a drum feature during Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square." Otis Brown III is the power player, while Matt Wilson adds a whimsical quality. (Bonus question: Where is Dewey Square? I looked it up.) Pianist James Weidman worked with the late Abbey Lincoln. And last but hardly least, bassist Esperanza Spalding just won the Grammy Award as Best New Artist. She's receiving great press for winning over Justin Bieber. Check out her solo in "Dewey."
The latest Lovano album with this two-drum group — except for Wilson, who is at the Vanguard for Francisco Mela — is Bird Songs.
Personnel: Joe Lovano, tenor and soprano; James Weidman, piano; Esperanza Spalding, bass; Otis Brown III and Matt Wilson, drums.
Many thanks to producer Josh Jackson, technical director and recording engineer David Tallacksen, and the WBGO/NPR Music/Village Vanguard team. Our Surround Sound remix is by Duke Markos. Dee Dee Bridgewater's studio engineer is Ginger Bruner at KUNV Las Vegas.