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The Invisible Hand (2000)


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Scott Colley

Though chock full of Osby's signature brand of dissonance, The Invisible Hand is one of the altoist's mellower, more contemplative offerings. Its most novel aspect is the inclusion of pianist Andrew Hill and guitarist Jim Hall, two of jazz's fascinating elder statesmen. Hill's piano style is fractured and fragmented, yet suffused with its own ornamental beauty. Hall is a master of the understated, perfectly chosen phrase. Both have worked with Osby on more than one occasion. But The Invisible Hand is an historic first: prior to its recording, Hill and Hall had never played together. Disappointingly, the two are paired only on Hill's "Ashes" and Hall's "Sanctus"; otherwise, they appear separately. In fact, Hall is present only on three of the album's ten tracks, giving listeners only the briefest glimpse of his talents. Hill, appearing on six numbers, is utilized more effectively; the pianist is especially brilliant on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." Gary Thomas, an Osby contemporary, overdubs multiple woodwinds to create thick orchestration on "Nature Boy," "With Son," and a couple of others. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Terri Lynne Carrington provide reliable rhythmic support throughout. But overall the record suffers from a discontinuity brought about by repeated personnel shifts. In a sense, The Invisible Hand sounds like three different albums, and Osby's production seems unnecessarily convoluted. ~ David R. Adler