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Wednesday, December 2, 1998

Banned in New York

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 1998 at 12:00 AM

From original concept to recorded sound to packaging, Greg Osby here makes the move that desperately needed to be made. Far too often in the '90s, despite all the hype about jazz's popular resurgence, the music has been suffocated by over-production, calculated politeness and "commercial" polish.

Osby says "later for that" with this live set, recorded on a single overhead mike in an unspecified New York club. The band includes some of the same young turks he's played with on his last three, excellent Blue Note releases. The rapport among them is tight-like-that, with the rhythm section of young drummer Rodney Green and bassist Atsushi Osadai burning and chugging along like the team of Dennis Charles and Buell Neidlinger, those reincarnated bodhisattvas upon whom maestro Cecil Taylor once so totally relied. Pianist Jason Moran manifests his brilliant self with further Tayloresque echoes and a rhythmic, stride-like approach to swirling solos. His wonder-filled joy on Charlie Parker's "Big Foot" will have folks yelling out and stomping right at home. Moran has always been a particularly impressive find of Osby's, and on Banned he comes into his own.

But for those who've been following Osby's career, this set is especially gratifying. From the heady melodiousness of his work with Andrew Hill, to the suspended, swinging use of space on his studio recordings, he has always shown signs of genius. Now, live and uncut, the richness of his thinking comes to the fore, but with an immediacy, passion and innovative urgency that make one only wish to have been there. And, at least for one set, we are. The jazz record of the year!

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