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Joshua Redman: Timless Tales (For Changing Times)

Jim Santella By

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Where does the time go? The ‘90s seem to be flying by faster than previous decades. Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman just came up a few years back in a media "explosion" that introduced his Warner Bros. albums and provided biographical details about his Berkeley youth years, his Harvard credentials, his Thelonious Monk Institute award, and the differences in style between Josh and his father, saxophonist Dewey Redman. In just three months (already) the younger Redman will turn 30.

Far from being born "with a silver spoon in his mouth" the saxophonist has shown creative skills as an expressive communicator through his instrument and as an innovator who will readily pump up the hard-core edge in his performances. The acoustic piano trio on Timeless Tales is a perfect fit and each artist can be heard clearly in support of Redman’s melodies. Redman employs the alto sax on "Yesterdays," "Love For Sale" & "The Times They Are A-Changin’," and soprano sax on "I Had a King" & "Eleanor Rigby."

"Summertime" begins the session, which is somewhat lightweight while remaining within the confines of a creative journey. Redman’s approach to the horn is warm and laid-back, while the trio behind him explores various textures from a subdued vantagepoint. Right from the start, each of the four artists show that they prefer creative interplay and a free flow of ideas. Cole Porter’s "Love For Sale," Jerome Kern’s "Yesterdays," and Irving Berlin’s "How Deep Is the Ocean" certainly come to mind as classic jazz standards, but Redman’s decision to include newer tunes too, proves his point that good music comes from all eras. The haunting melody of Joni Mitchell’s "I Had a King" is presented in a sparse setting with both pianist and saxophonist offering solo spots. Stevie Wonder’s "Visions" is presented with a Latin beat and an expressive ballad charm. The quartet picks up the energy level some on Bob Dylan’s "The Times Are A-Changin’," which has a comfortable rural charm. These tunes tell stories. The tale accompanying "Eleanor Rigby" is a familiar one, and Redman depicts it in a manner, which contains both drama and sweetness. Prince’s "How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore" ends the session in a lovely blues fashion enhanced by the quartet’s overt head-shakin’ finger-poppin’ slap-bass sense of telling a familiar story. Highly recommended.


Track Listing: Summertime; Interlude 1; Visions; Yesterdays; Interlude 2; I Had a King; The Times They Are A-Changin

Personnel: Joshua Redman- tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Brad Mehldau- piano; Larry Grenadier- double bass; Brian Blade- drums.

Title: Timless Tales (For Changing Times) | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Warner Bros.


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