Born in St. Louis in 1960, alto saxophonist Greg Osby grew up amid the
sobering reality of the inner city life where children are forced to
become adults before their time. It’s from these circumstances that his highly personal and multi-faceted music evolved.
First playing the clarinet in junior high school, Greg switched to alto
sax a year later for its better fit with more contemporary styles. While in
high school Greg was a member of various Blues, Soul and Funk bands that
performed in and around St. Louis.
In 1978, Greg enrolled at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, becoming
friends with Geri Allen, Wallace Roney and Gary Thomas. After two years
he transferred to Boston’s famous Berklee College of Music. Among his
fellow students were a plethora of future Jazz stars including Branford
Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, Donald Harrison, Terri Lynne Carrington and Cindy
Blackman, creating a highly charged atmosphere of creativity and stimulation.
Moving to New York in 1983, Greg became a regular member of Jon Faddis’
ensemble, and also freelanced with several major notables like Dizzy
Gillespie, Lester Bowie, McCoy Tyner and the World Saxophone Quartet.
To supplement his income, Greg often moonlighted with a variety of ethnic
ensembles, playing Reggae, Salsa, Soca Calypso and most of the other
forms reflecting the cultural melting pot of his new hometown.
In 1984, Greg and fellow altoist Steve Coleman formed the M-BASE
Collective, a floating ensemble of many members, including Ms. Allen,
Ms. Carrington, Vernon Reid, Graham Haynes, Robin Eubanks and Cassandra
Wilson. During the same time, he joined Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition - an
experience that Greg credits as a time in which his "musical thinking
for performance and composition advanced by light years."
In 1987, Osby signed with the German label JMT, recording four albums
before signing with Blue Note in 1990, and issuing a string of
recordings characterized by a blend of street pulse, hip-hop and contemporary
influences tied together by the improvisational nature of Jazz. His
eleventh and most recent recording, 'The Invisible Hand' featuring
Andrew Hill and Jim Hall was released this past February.