on drums. Redman has always had strong preference for the trio format, with uncommon sidemen. In the era of Back East (Nonesuch, 2007) his saxophone was supported by several outstanding bass and drum teams including: FLY
, he seemed more comfortable and inventive without a piano or guitar limiting or restricting the harmonic choices. The triangle setup at the Bistro provided easy eye contact among the musicians. Redman, the obvious leader, embraced an approach which yielded front and center solo exposure for each instrument, rather than mere supportive roles for the rhythm section. The set seemed unrehearsed and fresh, drawn from the Redman book, as he glanced during each selection looking for the next, with no apparent set list.
"Surrey With the Fringe..." kicked off the first set. Redman changed keys repeatedly with each phrase, yielding an exciting new life for the old staple. He followed with "Extra Sauce," a Redman original. The third tune, also from the Back East collection was "Crisis" penned by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard
A stellar reading of "Stardust" slowed the pace, and provided a ballad. Redman stayed on tenor sax the whole set with only one excursion to soprano. The group concluded with a funky reading of a contemporary pop tune announced as coming from the Police (Sting
). This groovy exploration was reminiscent of Redman's Elastic (Warner Bros. Records, 2002) Band era.
The group obviously enjoyed the venue, the patrons and the warm St. Louis reception. With Redman, Hutchinson and Rodgers, the Bistro faithful were treated to improvisation and interchange at the high level for which Jazz at the Bistro is known, a level not all that common in today's live jazz.