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In concert: Joshua Redman at Blues Alley

joshua redmanJoshua Redman (left), evoked saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins at Blues Alley, Thursday. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

By Aaron Leitko

If it's pedigree you want, Joshua Redman has it. The San Francisco-based saxophonist player is the son of another horn player, Dewey Redman, a bona-fide jazz great who performed alongside Keith Jarrett and Ornette Coleman. But as a performer and composer, Redman's parentage lies elsewhere. He's really a child of Sonny Rollins.

Redman's Thursday night set at Blues Alley, the first performance of a four-night stand that will run through Sunday, owed a heavy debt to the late tenor player. From the makeup of his trio--a bass, drums, and saxophone setup, first pioneered by Rollins -- to the first song of the performance -- "Mack the Knife" a Kurt Weil penned tune that Rollins recorded on his defining record, "Saxophone Colossus."

joshua redman

Like his idol, Redman has a knack for buffing up melodies on the fly--restating, revising, and embellishing key phrases. He can take a familiar series of notes and wring it into exotic new shapes. He's a fluid and melodic soloist, too. Until Redman hits full, squelching, volume, it's hard to know which notes are rehearsed and which are the product of improvisation.

The Rollins homage only goes so far, though. Redman's rhythm section--drummer Gregory Hutchinson and bassist Reuben Rodgers--has a more modern, elastic feel to it. They play around the rhythm, decay into abstraction, then snap back to form.
The rest of the set drew heavily on Redman's originals, most from his 2009 record, "Compass." Those compositions favor odd time signatures, growling tones, and melodies with spiky and disjointed intervals. In other words, Coltrane territory. But when Redman dug into a riff, twisting it around, chewing it up, it was clear where his heart was.

joshua redman

joshua redman

joshua redman

joshua redman

By Click Track  | October 15, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Joshua Redman  
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Aaron's reference to "the late tenor player" in the second paragraph is factually incorrect. Sonny Rollins is still alive.

Posted by: outsider8 | October 16, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

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