Greg Osby & Jason Moran: Channel Three & Same Mother
It's hard to believe that among the sixteen albums he's recorded as a leader, Channel Three is alto saxophonist Greg Osby's first with simple drum and bass backing. The time must be right, because the music on this recording contains all the technical precision and musical interplay listeners have come to expect from Osby projects and his band meets every virtuosic demand they throw at each other.
Eight of Osby's own compositions are bookended by Ornette's "Mob Job (the altoist finding the melody with his tart tone) and Dolphy's "Miss Ann (taken at a focused rapid pace on soprano), putting this group's intentions into context.
Osby's chief collaborator here is drummer Jeff "Tain Watts, who brings funk and pliability to every cut and whose inventiveness and mastery of controlled chaos never lags. Newcomer Matthew Brewer on bass holds his own in tandem with Osby's slithery horn and supplies sensitive accompaniment to the leader's lilting soprano on "Diode Emissions. Unpretentious and unadorned jazz music marvelously played and performed.
If the knock on Greg Osby has been that his compositions lack personality, Osby alumnus Jason Moran's music has personality to burn. And while his concepts are thought-out, they're never gimmicky.
On Same Mother, Moran and his seasoned bandmates take down home blues as their starting point, spearheaded by the addition of Marvin Sewell's steely sliding guitar. On the recording's centerpiece, "I'll Play the Blues for You, Moran bangs out the melody, Tarus Mateen evokes the Stax sound on bass, and Sewell meets the challenge of Albert King's original stinging electric lines.
Throughout, Moran effortlessly performs subtle shifts in meter, from stutter-stepping to barrelhouse rolls, his heavy left hand pounding and never letting up. The tracks aren't long but they're densely packed. The fact is Moran is too hip to stray too far from jazz, has too much taste to move too far from classical touchstones and has too much depth to abandon the blues in any of his offerings.
Tracks: Mob Job; Vertical Hold; Viewer Discretion; Diode Emissions; Fine Tuning; Please Stand By; Channel Three; Test Pattern; Miss Ann.
Personnel: Greg Osby: alto and soprano saxophons; Matt Brewer: bass; Jeff "Tain Watts: drums, cymbals, percussion.
Tracks: Gangsterism on the Rise; Jump Up; Aubade; G Suit Saltation; I'll Play the Blues for You; Fire Water; Field of the Dead; Restin'; The Field; Gangsterism on the Set.
Personnel: Jason Moran: piano; Marvin Sewell: acoustic and electric guitars; Tarus Mateen: acoustic and acoustic-electric bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.