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Disc Review: Joshua Redman, Back East

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  • April. 20, 2007
    Disc Review: Joshua Redman, Back East

    By Jeff Simon
    The Buffalo News

    What a great disc this is. To say that it's one of the jazz discs of this year, already, is almost pitifully mild. It presents, in fact, a remarkable 38-year-old jazz saxophonist in full bloom. Redman has been an ongoing wonderment since the tenor saxophone player (and son of Dewey Redman) emerged as a young jazz prodigy 15 years ago. This is, without question, his fulfillment as a jazz powerhouse, thus far. What Redman — whose late father recorded John Coltrane's "India" here with his son shortly before his death — is doing on "Back East" is paying direct tribute to one of the pivotal records in all of jazz: Sonny Rollins' pianoless trio masterpiece "Way Out West" recorded in an all-night session in Los Angeles a half-century ago. Ever since Rollins showed the way, playing in a pianoless trio has been a rite of passage for the most ambitious saxophone players. Without the piano's harmonic carpet to stand on, some saxophonists just do better than others (so, for that matter, do some drummers when asked to perform, in a sense, orchestrally). Branford Marsalis, for instance, has always played well in a pianoless trio format but never as well as Redman does here (that an alto saxophonist — Kenny Garrett — was as extraordinary as he was on "Triology" is a bit of a jazzrecording landmark). What the San Francisco resident saxophonist Redman is doing here is turning Rollins' masterpiece upside down — coming East to play with three different sets of bassists and drummers: Christian McBride and Brian Blade; Larry Grenadier and Ali Jackson; and Reuben Rogers and Charles Lloyd's drummer, Eric Harland. He's even playing two of the classics from Rollins' record: "Wagon Wheels" and "I'm an Old Cowhand." The result is little short of stupendous. When he was starting out, Redman often played with just a bassist and a drummer strictly out of practical necessity (the absence of an available pianist or the money to hire one). And when he's joined by his father on "India," Joe Lovano on Wayne Shorter's "Indian Song" and soprano saxophonist Chris Cheek on Redman's "Mantra No. 5," you can only wish there had been more of each. This isn't jazz neo-classicism; there's nothing "neo" about it. This is truly a classic jazz format which a great saxophonist feels ready to claim as his own. And it's all of that.

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on April 20, 2007

By Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News

What a great disc this is. To say that it's one of the jazz discs of this year, already, is almost pitifully mild. It presents, in fact, a remarkable 38-year-old jazz saxophonist in full bloom. Redman has been an ongoing wonderment since the tenor saxophone player (and son of Dewey Redman) emerged as a young jazz prodigy 15 years ago. This is, without question, his fulfillment as a jazz powerhouse, thus far. What Redman — whose late father recorded John Coltrane's "India" here with his son shortly before his death — is doing on "Back East" is paying direct tribute to one of the pivotal records in all of jazz: Sonny Rollins' pianoless trio masterpiece "Way Out West" recorded in an all-night session in Los Angeles a half-century ago. Ever since Rollins showed the way, playing in a pianoless trio has been a rite of passage for the most ambitious saxophone players. Without the piano's harmonic carpet to stand on, some saxophonists just do better than others (so, for that matter, do some drummers when asked to perform, in a sense, orchestrally). Branford Marsalis, for instance, has always played well in a pianoless trio format but never as well as Redman does here (that an alto saxophonist — Kenny Garrett — was as extraordinary as he was on "Triology" is a bit of a jazzrecording landmark). What the San Francisco resident saxophonist Redman is doing here is turning Rollins' masterpiece upside down — coming East to play with three different sets of bassists and drummers: Christian McBride and Brian Blade; Larry Grenadier and Ali Jackson; and Reuben Rogers and Charles Lloyd's drummer, Eric Harland. He's even playing two of the classics from Rollins' record: "Wagon Wheels" and "I'm an Old Cowhand." The result is little short of stupendous. When he was starting out, Redman often played with just a bassist and a drummer strictly out of practical necessity (the absence of an available pianist or the money to hire one). And when he's joined by his father on "India," Joe Lovano on Wayne Shorter's "Indian Song" and soprano saxophonist Chris Cheek on Redman's "Mantra No. 5," you can only wish there had been more of each. This isn't jazz neo-classicism; there's nothing "neo" about it. This is truly a classic jazz format which a great saxophonist feels ready to claim as his own. And it's all of that.

Music Enitity Reference: 
Back East
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