Greg OsbyOn the eve of his Australian tour, we caught up for a quick chat with Greg Osby.

Saxophonist, composer, producer and educator Greg Osby has made an indelible mark on contemporary jazz as a leader of his own ensembles and as a guest artist with other acclaimed jazz groups for the past 20 years. Highly regarded for his insightful and innovative approach to composition and performance, Osby is a shining beacon among the current generation of jazz musicians. He has earned numerous awards and critical acclaim for his recorded works and passionate live performances. He is firmly committed to finding methods of improvisation that are contemporary in context and style.

JK: What can Australian audiences expect to hear, or does the quote from Whitney Balliett ring true ie "the sound of surprise”.
GO: The audiences can expect to hear an honest collaboration between artists forging a new musical relationship. I will coach some exceptionally capable Australian musicians through some of my favorite compositions and we will absolutely sound like a band fresh from a lengthy tour. I'm excited to meet and perform with them, and there absolutely will be many surprises.

JK: What is inspiring you at the moment?
GO:It is encouraging to find incredibly talented musicians all over the world, with some residing in locations that formerly had no access to global intellectual and artistic resources. The internet has made it possible for everyone to research and develop on an equal plane. This makes it far easier (and more comforting) to interface with gifted and ambitious players on a global level. I especially enjoy reaching out to younger musicians and to check back on them after a while to find how they have advanced and developed musically.

JK: What are you working on? Current and future projects.
GO: I've just finished a lengthy composition commissioned piece for a chamber music group based in Philadelphia. The compositions for my next CD project with my group are now complete and I'll be headed into the recording studio within the next month. Over the spring and summer, I'll also be producing a few other CD projects for various artists on my label "Inner Circle Music."

Greg will be performing in Perth, as headliner for the Perth International Jazz Festival, Sydney for SIMA at the Basement and for the Melbourne Jazz Coop.

Perth – 9th May Ellington

Sydney Saturday 3rd May SIMA, Basement

Melbourne gig with MJC – please check their website for details

Born and reared in St. Louis, Greg Osby began his professional music career in 1975, after three years of private studies on clarinet, flute and alto saxophone. Coming from a vibrant and musical city, Osby showed an early interest in the performing arts and spent his years in secondary school with a heavy involvement in Blues and Jazz groups. In 1978 Osby furthered his musical education at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) where he majored in Jazz Studies. He continued his studies at the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) from 1980 to 1983.

Upon relocating to New York in early 1983, Osby quickly established himself as a notable and in demand sideman for artists as varied as Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Jack DeJohnette, Andrew Hill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jim Hall and Jaki Byard as well as with many ethnic and new music ensembles in the New York area.

In 1985 Osby was invited to to join Jack DeJohnette's innovative group, "Special Edition". It was as a member of this ensemble Osby was able to fine tune the more challenging aspects of his conception in an open ended, no holds barred musical situation. Says Osby, "My musical thinking for performance and composition advanced by light years as Jack was open to my input and was very encouraging in pushing me to to maintain a steady flow of experimentation. It marked a major turning point in my development as an artist." In 1987, Osby signed his first recording deal with a new German label , JMT (Jazz Music Today). With this situation, he felt that he was finally able to document life as he saw it through music. He had free creative reign to do whatever he liked. He recorded four CD titles for that label. Osby signed with Blue Note Records in 1990 and recorded fifteen outstanding recordings for that label as a leader. In 2008, Osby launched his own label, "Inner Circle Music", which serves as a platform for many of today's brightest artists. From the pulse of the streets and the language of a generation, Osby has sketched numerous musical essays set to a contemporary score using the improvisational nature of Jazz as the connecting thread.

On "9 Levels", his latest recording on Inner Circle Music, Osby presents his wares in a sextet format and is joined by special guests, Nir Felder, guitar; Adam Birnbaum, piano; Joseph Lepore, bass; Hamir Atwal, drums; and a welcome newcomer to the international jazz scene, vocalist Sara Serpa.
Twitter: @gregosby