June 2005

Joshua Redman Elastic Band
June 30, 2005Star StageToronto
Report by David Fujino with Photo by Roger Humbert
I admit it. I'd never heard tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman before. I'd read the occasional print interview, but somehow I never got around to his music.

Word is, he's a bit of a 'phenom'. Some listeners say he's never fulfilled his promise, and yet others love him for his changeability.

I was there to hear him for myself.

I found that Redman has a fondness for lean and simplified R&B and funk grooves.

His discrete use of electronics gives him a second voice to work with, and he's clearly trying for a good balance between composition and improvisation.

As for the general 'sound' of Redman's set — it evoked for me the jazz funk sound of 1980's C.T.I. albums like Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" and Stanley Turrentine's "Don't Mess With Mr. T."

Make no mistake: there's undeniable intelligence and sensuality in Redman's music, but to this listener the compositions seemed a little formless, often resolving themselves in predictable rather than necessary ways.

And then it struck me — with the force of a brute awakening — that Redman has never been a steadily gigging sideman. He has not toiled and toiled in the jazz ranks, and we can hear this in his compositions and in his carefully projected solos.

He has obvious talent, but Joshua Redman makes me ask the impudent question: Where's the jazz?

Jeff Ballard — drums
Jeff Parker — guitar
Sam Yahel — keyboards
Joshua Redman — tenor/soprano saxophone
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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