But Osby, a St. Louis native, remains in awe of his role model: tenor saxophonist and local jazz legend Willie Akins.
I saw him perform countless times during my teen years," said Osby, 48. He just stood like a titan to me.
His approach to the saxophone was as if he'd trimmed the fat. Gone were the typical showmanship tidings that a lot of saxophone players are known by. His execution was impeccable. And his sense of swing, his tone — it was everything I wanted in my playing."
Next weekend at Jazz at the Bistro, Akins will perform in Osby's St. Louis Shoes combo. It's a highly anticipated engagement that jazz fans won't want to miss. Not only should the music reflect the sheer range of experience on the bandstand, but also highlight the spontaneity that is the essence of live performance.
Akins, 69, said he used to know Greg when he was coming up as an alto player."