Joshua Redman debuts a new quartet on this formidable set of originals. Pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson quickly establish themselves as a killer unit on "Courage (Asymmetric Aria)" and "Belonging (Lopsided Lullaby)", two fast and busy odd-metered romps. Interestingly, Redman plays alto on the latter, as well as on the gripping "Stoic Revolutions." Goldberg's solos are sparkling throughout, especially on "Courage" and the medium-fast "Last Rites of Rock 'n' Roll." Fellow tenor man Mark Turner sits in for the lively "Leap of Faith." The remaining tracks range from the inspired balladry of "Neverend" to the ineffable hipness of "Suspended Emanations."
Although it is probably Redman's finest album to date, Beyond
still doesn't rise to the level of true greatness in the field of composition. It would be hard for even a genius to measure up to the industry hype that has surrounded Redman for nearly a decade. But this makes it even more essential that critics evaluate Redman's work just as they would that of any other brilliant and hard-working, yet far more obscure, figure on the scene. This is not to take anything away from Redman, but rather to keep matters in their proper perspective. We might see Redman's face on far more magazine covers, but is his writing better than, say, Reid Anderson's or Patrick Zimmerli's? Redman himself would likely be the first to say no.