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Tineke Postma/Greg Osby: Sonic Halo

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Everyone who reads this magazine has friends who hate jazz. To them it sounds discordant, cacophonous, nervous and willfully abstract. Don’t play them this record.

Not that it will sound that way to experienced, committed jazz listeners. They will hear the expertise with which Greg Osby and Tineke Postma play saxophone. They will, especially, hear the absence of cliché in this music. The jazz cultural aesthetic values freshness above almost everything.

The “almost” qualifier is that beauty, in any of its infinite possible manifestations, is even more essential than newness. Too often, Sonic Halo is fundamentally unattractive. It has enough quivery squealing to give jazz fans a glimpse into what some people hate about jazz.

Postma and Osby intertwine their treble (alto saxophone) and intensely treble (soprano saxophone) voices in convoluted, mostly fast exercises that possess sophisticated intellectual and technical content but lack musical allure. Their tunes often sound ambiguously suspended in time, all introduction with no song. Osby’s “Facets” sputters and jerks, the two saxophonists frenetically fidgeting through the oscillating theme. Postma’s “Nine Times a Night” is nasal saxophone squalling over intermittent drum/bass thudding. The other players here (pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Dan Weiss) do the cool edgy stuff they are known for, but they sometimes sound like they are all operating independently.

With players this good, there are some nice moments. Osby’s “Where I’m From,” a postmodern free ballad, has searching rapt solos from Mitchell and Oh. On the only non-original, quick strokes and markings by both saxophonists at first sound random. It is startling and fun when, amid the fragments and broken outlines, from the snatches and implications, “Body and Soul” can suddenly be perceived. If this album had more tracks like “Body and Soul,” you could play it for your friends who hate jazz.

Originally Published