Joshua Redman has been developing and leading a quartet that features: Ron Miles on cornet, Scott Colley on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Redman formed the quartet to explore its sonic possibilities and to pay homage to Old and New Dreams, a band that featured his father, Dewey Redman, on tenor saxophone. That ideal is portrayed on his latest release, Still Dreaming. The quartet presents eight tracks that are full of energetic improvisation with a cohesion of elastic risk and reason. Six of the eight compositions are original, the other two tracks are "Playing," by Charlie Haden, and Ornette Coleman's "Comme Il Faut."
The album's opening track, a Colley composition called "New Year," is a relaxed swing selection that sets the tone for the album. Redman's solo is a study in tradition, combined with modern colors and an energetic logic that only comes from controlled risk taking. The pianoless set allows the listener to dig in deep with Redman's articulation and phrasing as he cycles through the harmony and substitutions. Miles is an excellent pairing for Redman, he contains the same risk-taking energy that delivers a wholly musical statement. Colley and Blade trade eight measure phrasings, developing a conversation along the way that is a compelling statement and a testament to the chemistry between the rhythm section on the album.
Redman and Miles start the second tune, "Unanimity," playing the melody with equal style and fervor, until Colley and Blade join in. This track has inspired improvisation by Redman. With his amazing ability to develop a motif in logical and exciting ways through his choruses, his passion also shines through on this track. The melody is used as an interlude between solos, which leads to Miles' solo statement. Taking rhythmic and melodic fragments to form the melody, Miles builds the energy, while under him, Colley plays bountiful substitutions and inversions to the harmony. This tune exemplifies what this group is about, control and logical freedom of expression.
"Blues for Charlie" has an excellent harmonized section with Redman and Colley whose intonation is spot on; the feel of the piece is reflective, and it is an obvious tribute to bassist Haden, who appeared with Redman on the '93 album Wish, (Warner Brothers). Also, Colley is a direct protégé of Haden, and he brings a similar bounce and exploration to his bass playing. The tune has sections of rubato playing where the band lets the time breath before it propels it forward with hard swinging sections that are deep in pulse and melodic exploration.
Redman's latest exploration is a delight. One of the most accomplished and versatile players on the saxophone scene, his attention to melody and exquisite soloing abilities through salient motivic saturation is breathtaking.
Haze and Aspirations;
It's Not the Same;
Blues for Charlie;
Comme il faut;
Joshua Redman: saxophone; Ron Miles: cornet; Scott Colley: bass; Brian Blade: drums.
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