The Kennedy Center

Greg Osby


An innovative, outspoken, often controversial musician, Greg Osby saxophonist, composer, and bandleader has been a progressive force in jazz for nearly 20 years. With a full command of the language of bebop, a taste for rhythmic complexity, and a fiery approach to his primary instrument, the alto saxophone, he is regarded as one of the notable lions of the instrument.

He attended Howard University and Boston's Berklee School of Music, and then went to New York to work with legendary artists including Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock. With fellow saxophonist Steve Coleman, he formed the M-Base Collective, a group that also featured vocalist Cassandra Wilson, pianist Geri Allen, and guitarist Vernon Reid. A stint with drummer Jack DeJohnette's band, Special Edition, followed. After sitting in on an April 2000 concert in the Philadelphia area with ex-Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and his band, Mr. Osby's burgeoning set of admirers expanded to embrace a significant number of "Deadheads."

His versatile career, on the creative cutting edge, includes styles from experimental hip-hop and contemporary conceptual to cerebral straight-ahead jazz. His recent recordings for Blue Note include Art Forum, Further Ado, Zero, Banned in New York, and Invisible Hand, the latter with guitarist Jim Hall, pianist Andrew Hill, reed player Gary Thomas, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

Osby appeared as featured guest on Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center, January 8, 2001, later broadcast nationwide on NPR member stations.

Last updated: March 1, 2007
Photo of Greg Osby