GREG OSBY & FLORIAN ARBENZ

Reflections of the Eternal Line

Release: September 2020

“technical brilliance and controlled passion” All About Jazz

Continuing a professional relationship that has lasted 22 years, Swiss drummer & percussionist Florian Arbenz and legendary American saxophonist Greg Osby join forces to present their debut duo album, Reflections of the Eternal Line

The project was inspired by a series of paintings by renowned artist Stephan Spicher, whose workshop was the location of the recording sessions. 

At first glance, a saxophone-drum duo may seem sparse. But the two musicians bring a huge range of improvisational ideas and techniques, not to mention a combined experience of more than 60 years, to create a wide and varied palette of sounds. 

Osby, on soprano & alto, shows his seemingly endless stream of inspiration whilst Florian expands the classic jazz drum kit with a huge balinese gong, some tuned kalimbas and other custom-designed percussion instruments which add a sense of bass lines and even harmony. 

The symbolism of Spicher’s artwork – a fascination with two lines which cross from time to time – is not lost on the musicians either. 

 
Greg Osby / Florian Arbenz album

We search for a communication and interaction of our two lines, leaving the freedom to each other, but also clearly inspiring each other.

Release: September 2020

“technical brilliance and controlled passion” All About Jazz

Continuing a professional relationship that has lasted 22 years, Swiss drummer & percussionist Florian Arbenz and legendary American saxophonist Greg Osby join forces to present their debut duo album, Reflections of the Eternal Line

The project was inspired by a series of paintings by renowned artist Stephan Spicher, whose workshop was the location of the recording sessions. 

At first glance, a saxophone-drum duo may seem sparse. But the two musicians bring a huge range of improvisational ideas and techniques, not to mention a combined experience of more than 60 years, to create a wide and varied palette of sounds. 

Osby, on soprano & alto, shows his seemingly endless stream of inspiration whilst Florian expands the classic jazz drum kit with a huge balinese gong, some tuned kalimbas and other custom-designed percussion instruments which add a sense of bass lines and even harmony. 

The symbolism of Spicher’s artwork – a fascination with two lines which cross from time to time – is not lost on the musicians either. 

 
Greg Osby / Florian Arbenz album

We search for a communication and interaction of our two lines, leaving the freedom to each other, but also clearly inspiring each other.

Liner Notes (by Florian Arbenz)

„Reflections of the eternal line“ brings together some important aspects of my artistic life in a fresh and unusual context…

The way I play the drums in this project and the two masters who are taking part alongside me are strongly connected with my own history. 

I remember exactly when I heard Greg Osby playing the first time: it was back in May 1991 when, aged 15, I used to listen to the Swiss radio jazz show and record them on tape due the lack of money. His song „Man-Talk“ from the Blue Note recording “Man-Talk for Moderns Vol. X” came on. The playing was so exciting and I immediately know then that this was the kind of music I wanted to play myself. 

I later saw Greg live a couple of times, but the big moment came in 1998 when me and my brother Michael (who plays the piano) decided to ask Greg for a collaboration. 

He’d just released the great live recording “Banned in New York“ featuring some of the hottest young cats of the day in Jason Moran and Eric Harland! 

So, looking back, I still don’t know why Greg would collaborate with two unknown 23-year old Swiss guys, but that’s when our story together started. 

The first 2-3 days of this 2-week-tour were kind of strange, as we were really young and inexperienced and I think Greg expected a different level. 

The breakthrough came when we discovered that we had the same sense of humor. This changed the whole vibe of the tour and, I must say, after 23 years of playing regularly with Greg, some of the funniest moments and the best laughs came on tour with him! 

Beside the friendship we developed, I’ve always admired Greg’s virtuosity and crystal-clear concepts of improvisation, combined with his warm and full sound. 

Needless to say, he always was always generous with his time to explain and talk about his point of view on music, business and life…. 

The music we played in our projects together was always quite demanding and complicated, so it was my wish for quite some time to play with Greg in a more simple context. 

I’m really happy to have recorded in this duo line up with him. It’s ‘direct’ music with a lot of room for improvisation and, when listening back to the album, I’m even more fascinated by Greg’s improvisation over those melodies, using the space and freedom perfectly for some really detailed and masterfully-shaped statements! 

In my own musical history, there are a lot of twists and turns. I played different instruments as a kid and ended up studying classical percussion, playing all the mallet instruments, and performing classical and contemporary music in various high-level symphonic and chamber orchestras.

But in my heart I always was a drummer and that’s what I’ve done exclusively for the last 14 years now. 

I experienced a lot of different sounds and musical concepts during my ‘classical years’ and always wanted to integrate some of those ideas into a project. 

This duo is the perfect place to use this percussion experience to create different ‘musical rooms’ and concepts for the tunes. 

It’s great fun for me to find out how I can combine the drum sound with different percussion instruments which can create some bass lines or even harmony. 

So, beside the drumset, I use a huge balinese gong, some tuned kalimbas and some new percussion instruments which were designed especially for this project. 

It’s also great fun to see how sensitively Greg is able to react to the music and create some different vibes in every tune. 

The concept of this program is not just a exchange of ideas, but trying to find a different ‘sound’ for every tune. Hopefully this makes the music diversified to the listener too; it should feel like walking through an exhibition and looking at different paintings. 

With this in mind, it was an obvious step to involve another friend and mentor of mine into this project: internationally renowned painter Stephan Spicher. 

I met Stephan around 2004 through a common friend and immediately felt drawn to his art.  

Stephan’s main themes in his paintings are lines and nature and he has followed those ideas very consistently for many years now, working on different aspects and diving extremely deep in those subjects. 

Stephan is also a great philosopher and it’s very easy to get lost with him talking about music and art. So when thinking about a musical theme of our duo, it happened that I visited Stephan in his workshop and he showed me a new series he was working on with the theme of the interaction of a red and a black line. 

Seeing those paintings it was obviously clear to me that this must be my subject! 

Because what Greg and I do is exactly the same! 

We search for a communication and interaction of our two lines, leaving the freedom to each other, but also clearly inspiring each other. 

So I organized a recording session with Greg in Stephan’s workshop and we immediately felt a great vibe! 

I would consider myself, Greg and Stephan as more than just ‘arts people’ or ‘jazz musicians’ or ‘painter’…. Recording this music and listening (and looking) at the result, the great thing is that, thanks to Stephan’s live-painting, our music sounds different. 

But also, thanks to our playing, Stephan’s paintings he did during the session look different too! 

But anyway, you can check for yourself!

More info, files & press requests via press[at]jazzfuel.com

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