Alto-sax oracle Greg Osby has a way with the unexpected. He'll surprise with understatement or shock with juxtaposition -- whatever it takes to make the traditions of metallic, avant-garde soul and cool cerebrality meet. "The Invisible Hand" boasts the unusual lineup of Osby's longtime mentor Andrew Hill (piano), Jim Hall (guitar), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), Gary Thomas (flutes and tenor sax) and Scott Colley (bass). The prospect of Osby, Hill and Hall together, sharing a love of space and an understatement wired with muscle, seems too good to be true. But true it is. And fine.
Among the high points: A new Hill meditation called "Ashes" that includes a breathy melody from Osby; a reading of the Quincy Jones-Howard Greenfield ballad "Who Needs Forever" that recalls the hushed mystery of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" ; and "Tough Love," on which Hill's piano raises the ghost of Thelonious Monk. Of course there's more, but the thrill of discovery is what Osby is all about.