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Joshua Redman

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March 22, 2008

Music Review

No Longer a Phenom but Unquestionably a Force

By NATE CHINEN, NYTimes

Fifteen years ago the saxophonist Joshua Redman released “Wish,” his second album on the Warner Brothers label, solidifying his stature as one of the brightest young stars in mainstream jazz. A number of things have changed since — Warner no longer has a jazz department, and it’s harder to say just what “mainstream jazz” entails — but not the basic facts of his prominence or his talent. As he closes in on 40, Mr. Redman resembles something like a frank, assiduous fulfillment of the promise held out by his younger self.

Mr. Redman has been working at the Village Vanguard this week with a powerfully alert bassist, Reuben Rogers, and a sharp, supple drummer, Brian Blade. At one point in the first of two sold-out sets on Thursday night, they dusted off an original from “Wish,” the lightly floating waltz “Soul Dance.” Mr. Redman played the song’s melody on soprano saxophone instead of tenor, and then annotated its form with a series of quick arabesques. He sounded like someone with his eyes trained on the horizon.

That’s the same vantage he suggests throughout “Back East” (Nonesuch), his most recent album, which was among the best jazz releases of 2007. At its core it’s a trio record, with a few different rhythm sections. (Mr. Blade and Mr. Rogers both appear on it, but not together.) And it nudges Mr. Redman into a position of stark exposure, as the latest tenor player to lead a trio after the example set by Sonny Rollins just over 50 years ago.

On Thursday Mr. Redman’s flexible rapport with the trio undergirded several more recent compositions. “Reuben’s Rounds,” explicitly a showcase for Mr. Rogers, also involved some quicksilver tenor work. “Identity Thief” began with a rubato line, assigned in octaves to bass and tenor saxophone, before swerving into a groove. And “Two Track Mind” employed dartlike syncopations of the sort that flattered the whole band.

Mr. Redman’s silvery improvisational style can give the impression of skimming the surface rather than digging in: all those fluid eighth-note streaks and rangy altissimo runs can feel too facile after a while, regardless of the effort behind them. So it was a treat to hear him grappling, at the start of the set, with “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” and “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon),” the same two tracks that open “Back East.”

“Surrey,” long associated with Mr. Rollins, frothed up to a fever pitch: at one point Mr. Blade sent a stick sailing into the audience. But on “East of the Sun,” Mr. Redman overrode a frisky 7/8 groove with touches of old-fashioned tenor gallantry. It made for a nice contrast, as well as a smart acknowledgment of his stylistic inheritance.

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Josh Redman is crap-- a force of what, white projection & corporate marketing? force of whatever breeze blew this apple far-- far-- from the fucking tree? Gale force, baby!

Get off the stage schmuck & take that hokey ass consonance drummer with you--

FACT: Bobby Bare >>>>> Brian Blade but ooooh, bc Daniel Lanois (file under ur-hokey ass, not, sadly, to be confused with teh coonass of Blade's native-Louisiana) likes him he must be ok.

QUESTION: did goddamn Nate Chinen ever have ANY style whatsoever or even a 1/10th provocative thought or did he check all that the Times started signing his checks?

this music-- nay, this culture-- DESERVES TO DIE when this is the acceptable level of presentation, proper or otherwise.

roll over Bosley Crowther & tell Ben Ratliff the news.

if the glove fits, you must not acquit!

edc

On an early Saturday morning spin? I thought it was interesting enough to post...I think I even own a copy of Wish.

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I haven't listened to Redman in some time, though I do remember Don Byron telling me once "he's like the guy who's the best player in your town. That's all." An apt description.

and I though I was the only one who remembered Bosley Crowther...

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Hey, in the world we're talking about, once you're a phenom, you can only become a force. Ask Christopher Hollyday. Actually, the whole J. Redman thing always has been so perfect that I'm waiting for the revelation, sure to come eventually, that either there is no such guy or that there is and his real name is Jacob Garfein.

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I would have bet all my CDs that this thread would turn into a Redman bashfest.

It's apparently a crime to get a music deal with a major company.

It's not like i think of him as a great or even less a phenomenal player but he becomes an easy target that it is not even funny...

Edited by Van Basten II

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Joshua Redman has turned into the player that is deserving of all the accolades he got when he arrived on the scene.

His playing on last years Back East and on Sam Yahel's Truth and Beauty was excellent. I also had the pleasure of seeing him re-create the Monk-Trane Carnigie Hall concert with Brad Mehldau last year at the SF Jazz fest and he was amazing. This was not the same Joshua Redman I saw in the mid 90's, he has turned into a great player. Its not his fault he was the chosen one to to by hyped when he came up, besides find me somebody who would turn it down.

While they would have eventually gone on to have nice careers because they are all monsters, Redman deserves some credit for bringing Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade and Christian McBride to wider recognition when they were coming up (first time I saw that band I knew all of those guys would be great, Redman was the weak link at the time). Add being artistic director of the SF Jazz festival for a few years and you have a nice little legacy.

Edited by WorldB3

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If you get it (the record contract) the way he did, it's at least a misdemeanor.

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better than caffeine, I tell ya.

.

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Joshua Redman is A Very Good Player.

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I love the way Brian Blade plays. The trio records with Yahel, Blade, and Redman (like Yaya3) are some of my favorite modern "organ" records.

Even if the music completely dies, at least we'll still have the critics! :)

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Hey, in the world we're talking about, once you're a phenom, you can only become a force. Ask Christopher Hollyday. Actually, the whole J. Redman thing always has been so perfect that I'm waiting for the revelation, sure to come eventually, that either there is no such guy or that there is and his real name is Jacob Garfein.

I don't get this, & yes I know who Christopher Hollyday is / was.

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Hey, in the world we're talking about, once you're a phenom, you can only become a force. Ask Christopher Hollyday. Actually, the whole J. Redman thing always has been so perfect that I'm waiting for the revelation, sure to come eventually, that either there is no such guy or that there is and his real name is Jacob Garfein.

I don't get this, & yes I know who Christopher Hollyday is / was.

Just a joke, Christopher Hollyday having virtually disappeared. As for the rest of it, I'm saying that without Redman's name and back story, none of this might have been.

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You know who else is A Very Good Player?

Joe Lovano!

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I don't hate (or even dislike!) all these Very Good Players. No way that what they do is easily accomplished.

It's just that if this is where the top of the ladder is, do we really need a ladder? Can't we just jump over it ourselves?

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Don't know his work thoroughly, but Redman's fine, when the mood strikes. Back East is solid. SF Jazz Collective, too.

(I think clementine should be put in charge of the entire Internet beginning today. We could see how it goes over the next couple of weeks, but I for one would have high hopes) :ph34r: ...

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I first saw Redman when he had a band with Metheny, Billy Higgins and Charlie Haden. I was very underwhelmed.

Since then, he's produced some entertaining, and in some cases, fine music, but he's no 'force' or innovator.

His new band has Reuben Rogers, who I really like a lot.

I'll take McCaslin over most tenors today. US tenors, that is.

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I don't hate (or even dislike!) all these Very Good Players. No way that what they do is easily accomplished.

It's just that if this is where the top of the ladder is, do we really need a ladder? Can't we just jump over it ourselves?

:lol:

I think he's OK, I have no problems with him...maybe that's why I only have one album by him and I really only got it because of the band anyhoo.

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I don't hate (or even dislike!) all these Very Good Players. No way that what they do is easily accomplished.

It's just that if this is where the top of the ladder is, do we really need a ladder? Can't we just jump over it ourselves?

:lol:

I think he's OK, I have no problems with him...maybe that's why I only have one album by him and I really only got it because of the band anyhoo.

For many years I was consistantly underwhelmed by Redman. He certainly seemed to be a Very Good Player, as Jim noted, but he certainly wasn't the Second Coming of John Coltrane or anything (which is what the hype seemed to amount to). I have since come to realize two things:

1) He has grown into something better than a Very Good Player. I used to have trouble being engaged by his playing, and I don't have that problem anymore. I also realized that any problem that I had with Redman's music was MY problem and not HIS. The guy does what he's payed to do: He shows up and plays his ass off.

2) The bad guy here isn't Redman (or Wynton, or any other overhyped player), it's the hype machine that NEEDS a new messiah to promote every few years. You can't blame the guy for having some over-enthusasitic PR men.

And finally....

3) Clem is a major dick. Okay, I didn't have to realize that....

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1) He has grown into something better than a Very Good Player. I used to have trouble being engaged by his playing, and I don't have that problem anymore. I also realized that any problem that I had with Redman's music was MY problem and not HIS. The guy does what he's payed to do: He shows up and plays his ass off.

Well, that's kinda the definition of A Very Good Player. It might be "damning with faint praise", but only if you look at it like that.

I really don't have a problem at all with Redman, Lovano, etc. My problem is with the "environment" as a whole. Used to be that Very Good Players weren't the State Of The Art. Now...they pretty much are.

That too might be one of those things that's only a problem if you look at it like that, but I do look at it like that, so for me, it's a problem.

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I thought we were talking about jazz, or was that just an era and the "stylists" have moved in?!

Would Monk hire the Redman kid in 1957?

Competence is fine in many places but I choose not to bow down to it in every corner of my life.

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Joshua Redman has turned into the player that is deserving of all the accolades he got when he arrived on the scene.

His playing on last years Back East and on Sam Yahel's Truth and Beauty was excellent. I also had the pleasure of seeing him re-create the Monk-Trane Carnigie Hall concert with Brad Mehldau last year at the SF Jazz fest and he was amazing. This was not the same Joshua Redman I saw in the mid 90's, he has turned into a great player. Its not his fault he was the chosen one to to by hyped when he came up, besides find me somebody who would turn it down.

While they would have eventually gone on to have nice careers because they are all monsters, Redman deserves some credit for bringing Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade and Christian McBride to wider recognition when they were coming up (first time I saw that band I knew all of those guys would be great, Redman was the weak link at the time). Add being artistic director of the SF Jazz festival for a few years and you have a nice little legacy.

SHAME on whoever thought to stick Meldhau up there to play Monk's music. Extraordinary decision...

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>>>>> than ALL of Josh Redman combined--

Sexy Sal Nistico

so, to answer the question would Woody Herman have hired this "turd" in...

kind regards,

edc

The other tenor in that band is my buddy Joe Romano.

Back in the day, Joe (from Rochester), Sal (from Syracuse) and Don Menza (from Buffalo) were the leaders of the "Upstate Burn", of bad assed Italian tenors players.

Last January I heard Pat La Barbera in Toronto, and just hearing the sound of his tenor, was like a letter from home.

Here's Joe Romano and Sal Nistico

Too bad Gregory Herbert died so young.

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Would Monk hire the Redman kid in 1957?

Would Monk have hired Charlie Rouse in 1957?

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Would Monk hire the Redman kid in 1957?

Would Monk have hired Charlie Rouse in 1957?

Not if Johnny Griffin were available; otherwise, quite possibly.

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