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Still Dreaming: Joshua Redman Walks the Tightrope of Free Jazz and Straight-Ahead

2018 marks the 25th year tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman has been recording. In that time, the son of avant-garde jazz musician Dewey Redman has made a solid name for himself and has presented a voice uniquely his own, through a vast body of recorded work—Still Dreaming is the 21st album released under Joshua’s name. Through beautiful collaborative pairings and some bold choices, Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming continues to make his one-of-a-kind voice heard, while invoking spirits of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, his father, and other tenormen of yore.

The choices Redman made with his quartet are brilliant; there is no piano player in this session, so all the rhythm work falls to bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, while still allowing each of them to pursue melodic through lines. Redman’s pairings with trumpeter Ron Miles on “Unanimity” and “Haze and Aspirations” are reminiscent of the John Coltrane/Don Cherry pairings on Atlantic Records. Blade brings his impeccable brand of drumming to the LP, giving the entire recording a solid foundation upon which to build.

The most beautiful aspect of the recording is Redman’s ability to draw the listener in, with wonderfully accessible, straight-ahead numbers like “New Year” and “Unanimity,” before allowing them to experience the free jazz he was steeped in, during his youth. The last three cuts on the date—“Playing,” “Comme Il Faut,” and “The Rest”—are beautiful free jazz numbers that would appeal to fans of the avant-garde, yet still remain accessible to the uninitiated. Here the band pays their respects to two role models for the band: heavyweights Charlie Haden, who penned “Playing” and Ornette Coleman, who composed “Comme Il Faut.”

The album is brief, clocking in at almost 40 minutes exactly, which seems like just the perfect length. The execution of each of the numbers on the record is simply masterful, with plenty of room for members of the band to stretch out, but not so sprawling as to lose the listener. All members of the quartet make deliberate, but not over-wrought choices, creating a wonderful sanctuary into which the listener can retreat. This recording is one of Redman’s best, since his 2013 release Walking Shadows, and portends another 25 years of great recordings and collaborations.


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