Submitted by siteadmin on Fri, 07/01/2005 - 00:00


  • July. 01, 2005
    Joshua Redman Elastic Band: Momentum

    By John Kelman
    All About Jazz

    While some many pine for the glory days of the '50s when jazz was more "pure," the reality is that, artistically speaking at least, the present is a great time for jazz. A more cosmopolitan affair than ever before, jazz has seen younger artists grow up with exposure to so many styles of music- inside and outside of the jazz tradition- that there's a steady osmosis allowing for the kind of cross-genre infiltration that makes for all manner of new and exciting music. Purists may balk, but when you hear an album like Momentum, Josha Redman's latest with his Elastic Band- which comfortably mixes material by Ornette Coleman, Sheryl Crow, and Led Zeppelin with Redman's own originals and a series of brief jam-like interludes- it's an encouraging indicator that jazz isn't a museum piece. It's a living, breathing form that continues to evolve with each passing year.

    Redman and keyboardist Sam Yahel, who makes up the core of the Elastic Band along with alternating drummers Brian Blade and Jeff Ballard, know that it's possible to make funky, groove-centric music that doesn't fall anywhere close to the area of smooth jazz. Probably the most significant precedent for much of the music on Momentum is Herbie Hancock's Headhunters recordings from the '70s. But Redman's perspective is less dense than Hancock's layered keyboard approach, and while the group looks back with fondness, they are equally rooted in the present and perhaps positing for a new kind of accessible music that never panders to a lowest common denominator. The easy rhythms and accessible veneer of Momentum belie a greater depth. One need-only listen to the contemporary yet open-ended arrangement of Coleman's "Lonely Woman," beside the folk-like lyricism of Crowe's "Riverwide," to appreciate the true breadth of everyone's reach.