Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 64

COLUMN Fretprints
ing at the Kool Jazz, Newport,
and Concord festivals, and she
taught at Cal State Bakersfield. In 1977, she was asked
by friend/pianist Marian
McPartland to record a live
album for Halcyon, released
as Now's the Time. This was
followed by an appearance at
the first Women's Jazz Festival in '78, with McPartland
and Mary Lou Williams.
When Williams passed in
'81, Osborne performed a
Carnegie Hall tribute with
Dizzy Gillespie and Clark
Terry. In 1990, she appeared
at the Hollywood Bowl with
Lionel Hampton at the Playboy
Jazz Festival, then at the Los
Angeles Classic Jazz Festival.
Her final performances were
during a week-long stint at
New York's famed Village
Vanguard in 1991, where she
was accompanied by Dennis
Irwin (bass) and Charlie Persip
(drums), received enthusiastic
reviews, and on one set played
with her sons, Peter and Ralph,
Jr., on bass and drums.
On March 4, 1992, Osborne succumbed to liver
disease related to leukemia.
Her legacy and importance
are underscored by the fact
that her gender was a nearirrelevancy. She crossed
boundaries with an elegance
shared by few, providing inspiration for future jazz guitarists like Emily Remler and
current artists Sheryl Bailey
and Mimi Fox. Her work,
however, eclipses gender, and
she will be remembered as a
great jazz musician, period.

INFLUENCES
Osborne's earliest heroes
included Eddie Lang, Dick
McDonough, and Django
Reinhardt. Charlie Christian
had the deepest and longestlasting effect on her playing.

"Blues in Mary's Flat" was a swinging, blues-infused
signature song from Osborne's early days. This example
is based on her improvisations in the bridge and final A
section of the A-A-B-A form. The piece is taken at a brisk
tempo, and notice the cycle-of-fourths dominant-seventh
changes: E7-A7-D7-G7 (similar to "I Got Rhythm") in
measures 1-8 and the contrasting riff-oriented vamps in
C major in the A section. She begins with playful slurs
and phrasing reminiscent of Django Reinhardt or Les Paul
in measures 1-2. Naturally, Charlie Christian allusions
abound, particularly in the driving swing feel, horn-like

melodic conception, and rhythmic devices like syncopation,
purposeful rests, and repeated motifs in shifted rhythms.
Consider the pattern in measure 4 that is recalled and varied
in 11-12 and 16. She tags a similar phrase ending onto her
closing line in 6. The D9 arpeggio in 5-6 is a horn-conscious
gesture as are the decorated major-sixth arpeggios in 3 and
15. Mary's bluesy side appears in the string bends of 5-6,
the long slow bend in 8-10, and the ubiquitous major-minor
polarity in her use of D# and E notes in the melodies. Typical
double-stops and partial chords are found in 7-8, which
superimposes a blues-oriented F7 sound over the G7 chord.

STYLE
Her style blended vital elements of swing jazz,
bebop, and modern jazz, and was a microcosm
of the evolving musical language of the period

	

at its most innovative time. Her earliest recorded
efforts found her playing very much in the vein
of Christian, as did most guitarists of the era.

VINTAGE GUITAR	

64	

February 2017

However, though influenced heavily by his hornlike approach, Oklahoma blues ethic, solid swing
feel, and commanding technique, she projected



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - February 2017 - Open - 1
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