Channel Three (Blue Note)

Greg Osby

Released August 2, 2005

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2005




“I refrained from doing a project like this for a long time,” says Greg Osby of Channel Three, his 16th album for Blue Note since he signed with the label in 1990, and his first trio recital.

On Channel Three, Osby unveils his latest discovery, 21-year-old Matthew Brewer, his bassist of choice since 2002. On drums is Jeff “Tain” Watts, one of this era’s most prominent drummers, and Osby’s friend since both attended Berklee School of Music a quarter century ago. Osby opens the program with a soulful flight through Ornette Coleman’s “Mob Job,” and closes with a crisp soprano saxophone reading of Eric Dolphy’s “Miss Ann.” The bookends sandwich seven idiosyncratic Osby originals.

On Channel Three, Osby and his partners channel the spirit of wonderment and limitless possibility that characterized the ’60s and ’70s culture of radical improvising in which their role models flourished. Yet again, Osby makes it his business, as he once put it, “to affirm my foothold in the realm of unpredictability.”

Track Listing:

1. Mob Job (Ornette Coleman) 5:02

2. Vertical Hold (Greg Osby) 4:49

3. Viewer Discretion (Greg Osby) 5:47

4. Diode Emissions (Greg Osby) 5:41

5. Fine Tuning (Greg Osby) 4:13

6. Please Stand By (Greg Osby) 5:08

7. Channel Three (Greg Osby) 7:21

8. Test Pattern (Greg Osby) 4:52

9. Miss Ann (Eric Dolphy) 3:57


Greg Osby: alto and soprano saxophones, vocals

Matt Brewer: bass, vocals

Jeff “Tain” Watts: drums, cymbals, percussion, vocals

Recorded February 9 – 10, 2005, at Systems Two Studios, Brooklyn, NY

Mixed at Systems Two by Joe Marciano and Max Ross

Produced by: Greg Osby for Oztone Productions 


Progressive jazz enthusiasts have to admire an artist who is willing to take chances. From early beginnings with the creative music outlet of the M-BASE collective and popular music which included early hip hop, to becoming one of today’s most individualistic jazz artists, saxophonist Greg Osby has continued to create music that is grounded yet is always flourishing towards inventiveness. After having recorded in various jazz ensembles small and large, it’s hard to believe that Channel Three is his first trio recording as a leader.

Joining Osby is friend and drumming master Jeff “Tain Watts, who has been a prolific session man on numerous recordings, led his own groups, and been a longtime member of Branford Marsalis’ quartet. Osby has been noted for being a talent scout and mentor to young musicians; he completes the trio with a real find in twenty-something year-old bassist Matt Brewer, who’s been touring with him since 2002. One listen to his sound and skills and you can hear why. The distinct talent of each musician, combined with Osby’s vibrant ideas, cover six originals bookended by two standards. As on previous recordings, Osby’s signature is written all over the compositions with dynamic and cutting music.

Swing is the thing on Ornette Coleman’s “Mob Job” as the trio executes heavy and loose interplay, with the alto singing the melody lifted by the pulsating bass and drum rhythm section. Osby is the primary lead soloist, but Watts and Brewer provide colorful and muscular playing along with the changing tempos and arrangements. Osby’s signature quicksilver alto is ever-present, but a slight twist finds him playing soprano sax on a few selections. On the solitude of “Diode Emission, the soprano is beautiful and precise as the solo is surrounded by atmospheric bass and percussion work.

Watts’ drumming takes center stage on the marching band cadence of “Fine Tuning and the sax/drum duo “Please Stand By as he provides pure energy in typical form. But the real ear-opener lies in the bass strings of Brewer, who solidly holds down complex numerical rhythms that Osby is long noted for, with power and ease. One of the highlights is the groovy title piece “Channel Three, with each of the musicians adding voice chants intersperced with the music; as Brewer’s electric bass brings slight memories of Weather Report and bassist Jaco Pastorious.

One minor quibble is that Watts and Brewer don’t have enough out-front solo time, but a careful listen reveals that they made indelible marks on another standout recording by one of today’s foremost jazz artists.

Mark F. Turner (All About Jazz)