Skip to main content

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.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

JD Allen's Love Stone is a truly delightful experience

It isn’t often that an artist presents a piece of work that has a quiet introspection, combined with fantastic improvisation. It’s even rarer when that artist puts out an entire album of ballads. With his newest offering, Love Stone, saxophonist JD Allen does exactly this. Balancing intricate improvisation and contemplative melancholy, Allen’s Love Stone is truly a delightful experience. There are many stand-out cuts on the recording, but for my money “You’re My Thrill,” “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You),” and “Put on a Happy Face” are truly remarkable. There is a beauty that carries through “You’re My Thrill,” from the first note all the way through to the end; “Put On a Happy Face” has, on a cursory level, a melancholic thread weaving throughout, but upon multiple listens, there is an elegiac joy underscoring the piece giving a strange sense of comfort. However, it is Allen’s interpretation of the Johnny Hodges number “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You)” that make this cut th

McClenty Hunter, Jr's The Groove Hunter: A well-rounded first record

Even though The Groove Hunter is the first recording under McClenty Hunter Jr.’s name, don’t be fooled: Hunter is no newcomer to the scene. Having spent the last 13 years as a session musician, side man, and educator, Hunter is a seasoned professional. On The Groove Hunter , Hunter draws on this wide array of experiences, and calls on many of the musicians he’s played in support of, to present a masterful album full of great arrangements and beautiful original compositions. Surprisingly, it is not the drums that stand out on the recording. While Hunter’s drum work is noteworthy, it is the performances Hunter coaxes from his bandmates that are truly spectacular. Stacy Dillard’s tenor saxophone on “My Love” and “Give Thanks” -- two of McClenty’s original compositions -- is absolutely magnificent. Veteran players Eric Reed, Donald Harrison, Eddie Henderson, and Dave Stryker each bring their characteristic sound to the cuts they feature on; Stryker’s guitar work on the two pieces he sit

Marcus Miller balances beauty and the beat.

For some of us, summer music releases are as exciting, if not more so, than summer blockbusters. One such blockbuster is Marcus Miller's second Blue Note date, Laid Black , which was released by the label on June 1. With only two out of nine tracks falling short, and combined with names from the worlds of both jazz and gospel, Miller seamlessly blends heartfelt beauty with crowd-energizing funk. The most striking observation one makes with this release is that Miller has been busy composing, not just performing, in the last 3 years since his previous Blue Note release, Afrodeezia . Miller wrote, or co-wrote, 8 of the cuts on this album, flawlessly evoking quiet contemplation while still exciting the listener into wanting more. Surprisingly, it is the ballads on the album that compel the listener to return to the album. Millers original pieces “Sublimity ‘Bunny’s Dream’,” “Someone to Love,” and “Preacher’s Kid” are earnest, evocative piece that take the listener throu