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Greg Osby: Inner Circle

Greg Osby’s music evolves so rapidly that it’s hard to define his various stages or anticipate his next ones. Even though he’s been in primarily acoustic, modern bop settings since 1996’s Art Forum, the music he has produced has taken on wildly diverse characteristics, from the dense modernism of Zero and the pastel impressionism of The Invisible Hand to last year’s wonderful Symbols of Light (A Solution), which featured Osby interacting with a jazz-and-strings ensemble.

Osby’s latest CD, Inner Circle, was recorded in 1999, right after he teamed with pianist Jason Moran, vibist Stefon Harris, tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, bassist Taurus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits for New Directions, an uncharacteristic yet sublime investigation of Blue Note’s ’60s catalog. Inner Circle was slated to be released the following year, but Osby held up its release because, he says, “I made a hard left compositionally when I recorded this album. There are some wild ideas and approaches here that I felt might have thrown everyone for a loop.” Three years on the shelf is a long time in Osby’s briskly evolving universe, and its 2002 release makes Inner Circle sound somewhat dated in the Osby canon, though it’s still light years ahead of most CDs.

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