Greg Osby – St. Louis Shoes

Greg OsbyGreg Osby
St. Louis Shoes
(Blue Note – 2003)
by John Thompson

Almost within the first minute of “East St. Louis Toodle-oo,” your attention is captured. After the introduction, the first solo is bowed by Robert Hurst(b),which usually places near the end of a tune. But then, saxman Greg Osby has always been on the edge and out of the norm. Welcome to Jazz.

This Quintet consists of Osby(as) Hurst, Nicholas Payton(t,flh) Harold O’Neal(p) and Rodney Green(d) which is a stellar group itself. This music explores several terrains while erecting many emotions. No funk. No smooth jazz here. No musical dental affiliations. Don’t expect to hear “Summertime” as a finger snapping or traditional Broadway tune, or “St.Louis Blues” to sound as in its infancy. This music is on the edge and will dare any challenger to keep up.

My favorite, “Shaw Nuff”, is the only up-tempo bop selection, but shows that all personnel have chops and more. Osby has a laid-back projection from his horn, while Payton comes out swinging with both hands in total control. Green and O’Neal add fireworks worthy of a Fourth of July Celebration. The remaining selections show that Osby has an appreciation and feel for Mingus and Monk.

The musicianship exhibited on this release seems to show strong convictions towards the common goal of what was intended. And it works. If you think you know Jazz, give this one a try.