Sax star Joshua Redman is a product of his performances
By Bob Karlovits
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 6:36 p.m.
Joshua Redman believes over-analysis can spoil a wide range of activities.
“The experience is best left whole,” he says.
Redman, 44, will be bringing the work that has shaped his career to the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side on Nov. 23. The saxophonist has performed with groups from the String Cheese Incident and the Rolling Stones to jazz masters Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette. But he also has kept a quartet together for 17 years.
He will be at the guild with the band that features pianist Aaron Goldberg, drummer Gregory Hutchinson and bassist Reuben Rogers.
When you are with a group of players for a great while, Redman says, “you create a trust, and you know you can take chances — go out on a limb.”
On the other hand, performing in a variety of situations creates the possibility of learning new aspects of music.
“Every time you play with someone new, there is the chance of taking a little piece of that person's music with you,” he says.
But he doesn't try to be “too analytical” on what those little pieces do to his music.
Rather, he says, he simply tries to stay alert to which way his music is going and to be aware of some of the changes that might happen to it because of that experience.
Redman, son of saxophone star Dewey Redman, is a performer who has been open to experience his whole life. He performed with the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and Combo growing up in California, but didn't consider music a professional route.
He graduated Harvard College in 1991 and was planning on going to Yale Law School, but decided to take a break. He moved in with some musician friends in New York City, and got caught up in the jazz scene there.
Five months after moving to New York, Redman won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition — and the law school idea started to fade. His first, self-titled album was released in 1993, and he began playing with jazz giants as well as pop stars.
Performances with Pat Metheny, the Dave Matthews Band and Stevie Wonder added elements that give constantly changing shape to his music. His jazz is rooted in the mainstream direction of his father, but it also takes on elements of world music and the blues.
He says all of those musical encounters also give him ideas of ways to take his albums. His current release, “Walking Shadows,” for instance, features string arrangements. He doesn't think of it as a “string album” as much as he does a “ballad album” that uses the arrangements to emphasize the “lyricism and romanticism” of the songs.
The album goes from Jerome Kern's “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” to John Mayer's “Stop This Train.”
Having a string section behind him is not his usual format, but he says it is a comfortable change.
“When it's done right, it's a beautiful thing,” he says.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
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