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In concert: Joshua Redman

Joshua RedmanJoshua Redman has been one of jazz's most inventive performers over the past 20 years.

By Matt Schudel

Joshua Redman first vaulted to fame in 1991, when, just out of Harvard, he won the Thelonious Monk competition on tenor saxophone at the Kennedy Center. Since then, he's been one of the most consistently inventive performers in jazz, without losing the human touch that makes him connect with an audience at a deep level.

Sunday at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, he led a bare-bones trio of saxophone, bass and drums, which can be a challenging setting for musicians and listeners alike. Without chords from a piano or guitar, the architecture of the music is exposed, but Redman and his bandmates pulled off a strong, even inspiring performance.

(Playing with conviction, after the jump.)

Redman switched from tenor to soprano saxophone in his 90-minute set of originals and standards, balancing animated abstraction with a pleasing melodicism. Even when bouncing rhythmic ideas back and forth with drummer Gregory Hutchinson, Redman held to his fundamentally lyrical approach.

Bassist Reuben Rogers did the heaviest lifting, simultaneously providing a rich harmonic foundation while acting as a second melodic voice - and maintaining perfect intonation. He and Redman had an uncanny musical kinship, breaking into smiles as they matched each other's darts and feints.

In his best efforts, such as his slinky original "Chill" and a darkly gorgeous "Autumn in New York," Redman let a feeling of pure romance pour from his horn. In all that he did, he played with conviction, fire and ease, confirming his stature as one of the most compelling performers in jazz.

By David Malitz  |  February 22, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Joshua Redman  
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