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Thread: Greg Osby's style

  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Member -TH's Avatar
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    Default Greg Osby's style

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_p7q...eature=related

    I posted this video in another thread and I've been listening to this clip many, many times and I really like his improvisation on this standard tune. He starts his solo more traditionally but after that it sounds like he's playing in a wrong key (can't say it better). What's he doing? Sounds interesting!

    -TH

  2. #2
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    TH- he's playing "outside". That means outside the normal chord/scale relationships. You can do this by playing various chord substitutions to the changes (tritone substitutions, for example) playing in keys based on the extensions of the chords, playing a half-step up or down.

    Before I get savaged, I'll say I've got several Greg Osby recordings and like his playing. I also give him a lot of respect. Having said that, I don't care for this performance. For me personally, in such a conventional and great tune, playing outside should be used sparsely to make the normal changes more interesting and not as blatantly as he's done. Also, I think it's more musically logical to play inside the changes, go outside, and come back inside.

    You are right, his playing is bi-tonal. My ears can take a lot, so bi- or a- tonality are no problem with me. But I don't feel that they're used in the right context in this performance.

    This is all a matter of personal taste, of course. To my ears it would have been more effective to start the solo off more conventionally (not meaning unadventurous) and then go into the outer realms.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Greg's has always remained his own man, and it's served him well .

    Gary, let me hear your version .

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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    I sometimes use similar harmonic tension in my playing.
    I will play a pentatonic scale that is a whole step above the chord (i.e. play D pentatonic over a C maj7 chord, D=9th, E=3rd, F#=#11, A=6th, B=7th)

    The effect is interesting, it sounds "in" and "out" at the same time because you avoid the root and the 5th. Like the lines skim over the chords.

    You hear this a lot in so called "M-Base" players.
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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Quote Originally Posted by Tryptykon View Post
    Greg's has always remained his own man, and it's served him well . Gary, let me hear your version .
    Cheap shot, Tryptykon, and uncalled for. I said I like Osby, did you miss that?
    No disrespect or negativity towards Greg intended, whatsoever.
    I just don't care for this particular treatment. That is allowed, right?

    Perhaps you could add something positive and add to what I've said to help TH better understand what Greg is doing in that video clip. I'm sure you know more that I do about outside playing, Greg's style, etc, and it would be helpful not only to him, but probably to me and other potential readers. Thanks.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Here is an example of that with a jazz player; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns02jzH8Ccw

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    Distinguished SOTW Member -TH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Thanks Gary and Daigle65 for your great replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    TH- he's playing "outside". That means outside the normal chord/scale relationships. You can do this by playing various chord substitutions to the changes (tritone substitutions, for example) playing in keys based on the extensions of the chords, playing a half-step up or down.
    Thanks Gary! My "outside" playing skills at the moment only limit to the use of tritone substitution and that half-step up/down-approach. (For example on G7 I use notes from the C#7 -chord etc. and on Dm7 I can play Eb-F-G-Bb-A-F-D (a pattern from Eb-major back to the original Dm7). )

    So, I know a bit of these techniques but listening to Osby I hear he has taken it further (more advanced). Hard to explain.. I can use outside-sounding patterns on dom7 chords (resolving to I) but on Osby's case he's playing outside the whole chord progression. Has he substituted all the chords on that standard tune and he's improvising to those "new" chords?

    The first time I heard Osby's solo on this tune it really sounded like he's playing in a wrong key. If someone would play this same solo but with less authority, it would sound completely wrong ;-) I kind of have a love/hate-relationship to this style (more love than hate)

    Are there any good examples how to substitute chords on a standard tune?

    I'd like to know what techniques there are to play "outside" on other chords than dominant seven-chords resolving to the tonic. The dom-7 chord (resolving to I) is the most "flexible" chord, you can almost play anything over it if you resolve it to the I. Daigle said that playing a pentatonic scale a whole-step above on a major chord creates interesting sounds. I'll have to try that! Thanks for that tip!

    Whaler: You don't think that Osby is a jazz player?!?

    -TH

  8. #8

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Kind of strange articulation on that video. I guess it is hard to find sidemen that can play straight ahead. This was probably one of those great ideas that they put on BET.
    To play out, you should play in some also. That's why I posted that Brecker clip. Without any point of reference it just sounds wrong.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    -TH, without really analysing the chords and a transcription of his solo, I can't, at the moment, tell you exactly what he's doing, but it sounds to me like, in the beginning, he's playing a parallel chord progression in another key, based on an extension of the basic chord/key construction.

    For example, a CMaj7 chord can be extended with a D(9th), F#(#11), A(13th). If you look at that chord another way, you can think of it as D major over C major. If you extended a chord progression in the same way, you could be playing in D major over the chord structure in C major, giving a bi-tonal quality to the solo line. So, take a chord progression and transpose it to a parallel key and play an improvisation on that against the original chord structure. Of course, an interesting improviser is going to mix it up and, without going through Osby's complete solo, I would suspect that's what he's doing.

    If you want to learn how to do this, you can use parallel keys, like I mentioned, or tritone relationships, etc. A book that illustrates coming in and out of keys on standard progressions is Bunky Green's "Inside/Outside" which you might find interesting.
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    Distinguished Member John_Dikeman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    I don't think it's Osby's best playing, but he actually does resolve a lot of those out lines. He just tends to take them a beat or two (maybe a measure) beyond what's usually comfortable for sidestepping. He's certianly not just playing out, he's bouncing right near the chords the whole time. IMO

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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Just this week I've been listening to a lot of Greg via YouTube. Thanks whoever started posting links to his stuff.

    I like the in and out quality of his playing. I also like that he's trying to take the music forward - Don't get me wrong, I like the traditional players and contemporary guys within the traditional instrumentation. But Greg mixed contemporary JAZZ sounds with a more electronic medium.

    I like it.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member kavala's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    1) I like very much his tone and I also think he is an excellent player.

    2) I agree pretty much with Gary's original response. I feel it would have
    been a better solo had he come back inside a bit more often and played
    some sweet notes. That would have given a bit of relief to all that tension.

    3) I have no problem with somebody wanting to do something a bit more
    hip with an arrangement. That tune would normally be thought of as a ballad,
    but who's to say it has to be done that way all the time. A bit of groove
    is good now and then.

    4) What's with the empty tables ?? Maybe that says something.

    5) he does look very kewl.
    Selmer Mk VI Tenor, s/no. 85,xxx Tn mpc - Jody Jazz DV New York 7*, Marquez Chinese tenor. JJ DV, JJ ESP, Link STM, Selmer Mk VII Alto, s/no. 302,xxx, Yamaha Flute F100SII http://www.youtube.com/kavalasax

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Dikeman View Post
    I don't think it's Osby's best playing, but he actually does resolve a lot of those out lines...He's certianly not just playing out, he's bouncing right near the chords the whole time. IMO
    Yes John. I don't want to overstate the inside-outside thing. I'm just using the first part of that solo to illustrate for -TH what's going on; to try to shed a little light on his, "...it sounds like he's playing in a wrong key (can't say it better). What's he doing?" comment.


    Kavala -
    4) What's with the empty tables ?? Maybe that says something.
    - It has the look to me of something produced for a TV show.
    5) he does look very kewl.
    - That's his Jamie Foxx thang.
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    - That's his Jamie Foxx thang.
    The resemblance is amazing. I wonder if he was told this, and that's why he shaved his head.

    I met Greg once when he was performing a "Free Jazz" show in my neck of the woods. Cool guy who definatly knew how to "play outside the changes".

  15. #15

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Cheap shot, Tryptykon, and uncalled for. I said I like Osby, did you miss that?
    No disrespect or negativity towards Greg intended, whatsoever.
    I just don't care for this particular treatment. That is allowed, right?

    Perhaps you could add something positive and add to what I've said to help TH better understand what Greg is doing in that video clip. I'm sure you know more that I do about outside playing, Greg's style, etc, and it would be helpful not only to him, but probably to me and other potential readers. Thanks.
    No cheap shot intended, Gar .

    I did add something positive .
    I said Greg's his own man and it has served him well .

    You must've missed that ..

    I just asked to hear your version .. is that allowed ?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Gary's reference to the Bunky Green book is particularly relevant to this discussion. When Osby first made a splash on the New York scene back in the early 80s, the Cannonball influence on his playing was even more pronounced than it is in the video. He really sounded like Cannonball back then and was a fantastic "inside" jazz player. When he fell in with the M-BASE crew and Steve Coleman, who is perhaps Bunky's greatest disciple and advocate, his playing became even more harmonically and rhythmically adventurous -- a trend that has continued right up to the present -- and began to show the influence of Bunky. The result of that evolution can be heard in the video. By the early 90s, when this video appears to have been recorded, Osby had evolved into one of the most identifiable alto voices around -- like it or not.

    That said, this video is probably not the best presentation of Osby's "outside" harmonic ideas. Just about anything "outside" would sound weird against that cheesy synth and its vanilla voicings. I suppose you could fault Osby for choosing to play "out" while the rhythm section is so "in," but that's the way he plays/played, and it's unlikely that he would have submerged his identity and gone into full smooth-jazz mode to please the BET audience -- which he was already pandering to by playing that tune.

    As with most "inside/outside" jazz players, Osby's point of reference is the bebop/hard bop language (Bird, Cannonball), and it is in the straight jazz context that his "outside" harmonic ideas can be best evaluated and make the most sense. His playing on standards can be pretty interesting, and a good place to start would be his solo on "Indiana" from his Invisible Hand CD, recorded in 1999.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    Anyone else going to see Greg Osby play at the Triad (www.triadnyc.com) in Manhattan on Saturday, June 25th? He is playing a double bill with experimental "Folk Jazz" saxophonist Daniel Bennett.

    http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/177563

    Anyone, anyone? I know there are some NYC folks on this board.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    I'm going to try to go.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    a late response to this thread but this looks pretty tasty:

    http://www.chrismillersax.com/wp-con...2010/04/09.pdf

  20. #20

    Default Re: Greg Osby's style

    He was in St. Louis and he commented it was no fun to play a romantic ballad for a bunch of Dudes. I liked that even though.......
    My actions are my only true possession they are the ground on which I stand. Thich Nhat Hahn

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