Greg Osby: The Single Petal of a Rose


The Single Petal of a Rose


Greg Osby (alto sax)


St. Louis Shoes (Blue Note 81699)

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Greg Osby (alto sax), Nicholas Payton (trumpet),

Harold O’Neal (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), Rodney Green (drums)


Composed by Duke Ellington


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, January 22-23, 2003


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

For St. Louis Shoes, Greg Osby imaginatively scaled down for a quintet the orchestral arrangement of "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo," and in opposite fashion brilliantly expanded upon the usual solo piano or piano-bass formats of "The Single Petal of a Rose." Duke Ellington, the composer of each, would probably have admired these two Osby tracks for both their conception and execution. "The Single Petal of a Rose" was part of Duke's Queen's Suite, which he recorded at his own expense in 1959, gifting the one and only pressing to Queen Elizabeth herself. The general public never heard it until the Suite's release on Norman Granz's Pablo label in 1976.

Osby imparts "The Single Petal of a Rose" with a satisfying fullness it could never quite attain as a Debussy-like piano miniature. Osby's lustrous alto takes the lead with Robert Hurst's long-toned arco bass, Harold O'Neal's shimmering piano arpeggios, and Rodney Green's delicate cymbal work adding agreeable depth to the recitation. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton then handles the bridge with great open-hearted feeling. Osby next skillfully deconstructs the theme with an emphasis on fluttering asides. Payton follows suit with a lyrical alteration of the bridge, before giving way to O'Neal's rhapsodic piano improv that hints only slightly at Ellington's pianistic style in some of its ornamental voicings. Osby and Payton return to engage in some warmly developed counterpoint, capped by the altoist's reprise of the melody while the trumpeter offers well-chosen embellishments. The ending can be characterized as a rather abrupt diminuendo, leaving the listener pleased but wanting more.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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