The Osland Saxophone Quartet: Kentucky Roastup

This isn’t just for saxophonists. Indeed, the versatile Osland Saxophone Quartet provides a savory smorgasbord with something to please just about every taste. Helmed by University of Kentucky saxophone professor Miles Osland on soprano, and including fellow performer-educators Jonathan Anderson on alto, Lisa Parent Osland on tenor, and Larry Nelson on bari, the OSQ gets things off to a celebratory start with “Ulla in Africa,” an engaging romp embodying the elan of African “high-life” pop.

The percolating title track, penned for the OSQ by British composer Mike Mower, provides lots of blowing room over a funky, slap-tongued “bass” line. Just as swinging is the through-composed “Quartette,” written by Caryl Florio in 1879, shortly after the appearance of Adolphe Sax’s miraculous creation. Phil Woods’ “Dear Head Sketches” features flights by Osland’s darting soprano. Likewise impressive is the OSQ’s expert handling of Billy Kerr’s salutes to Billy Strayhorn. In all, a superb outing by one of the genre’s truly great ensembles.