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Joshua Redman (show review)

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  • May. 12, 2007
    Joshua Redman (show review)

    By Matt Schudel
    The Washington Post

    Since winning the 1991 Thelonious Monk competition at age 22, saxophonist Joshua Redman has carried the burden of high expectations. He's been hailed as a savior of jazz and battered by the inevitable critical backlash. Redman has made a triumphant return to form with his new album, "Back East," a straight-ahead jazz excursion that is his strongest recording in years.

    Thursday, during the first of four nights at Blues Alley, Redman and his trio offered an exhilarating, dynamic performance that should make believers of even his harshest detractors. Supported by only acoustic bass and drums, Redman was left musically exposed, with no chording instrument to lean on. Alternating between tenor and soprano saxophones, he never lost focus or command, whether playing a refashioned standard ("The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "East of the Sun") or an exotically flavored original from "Back East."

    He was exciting, sensitive, bold and touching, often in the same tune -- and never more so than on a deeply moving interpretation of the Matt Dennis classic "Angel Eyes." With drummer Ali Jackson's delicate brushwork sounding like a quiet, steady rain, Redman explored the rich voice of the tenor saxophone, gliding from a creamy middle range to land like a feather on a high, impossibly pure note. Bassist Larry Grenadier uncovered harmonies of dark complexity, as Redman reached into the emotional depths of the tune, revealing more of himself with each heartbreaking phrase.

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on May 12, 2007

By Matt Schudel
The Washington Post

Since winning the 1991 Thelonious Monk competition at age 22, saxophonist Joshua Redman has carried the burden of high expectations. He's been hailed as a savior of jazz and battered by the inevitable critical backlash. Redman has made a triumphant return to form with his new album, "Back East," a straight-ahead jazz excursion that is his strongest recording in years.

Thursday, during the first of four nights at Blues Alley, Redman and his trio offered an exhilarating, dynamic performance that should make believers of even his harshest detractors. Supported by only acoustic bass and drums, Redman was left musically exposed, with no chording instrument to lean on. Alternating between tenor and soprano saxophones, he never lost focus or command, whether playing a refashioned standard ("The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," "East of the Sun") or an exotically flavored original from "Back East."

He was exciting, sensitive, bold and touching, often in the same tune -- and never more so than on a deeply moving interpretation of the Matt Dennis classic "Angel Eyes." With drummer Ali Jackson's delicate brushwork sounding like a quiet, steady rain, Redman explored the rich voice of the tenor saxophone, gliding from a creamy middle range to land like a feather on a high, impossibly pure note. Bassist Larry Grenadier uncovered harmonies of dark complexity, as Redman reached into the emotional depths of the tune, revealing more of himself with each heartbreaking phrase.

Music Enitity Reference: 
Back East
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