Joshua Redman, Still Dreaming, Nonesuch

From 2018. My kind of farm is more a band like James Farm. Joshua Redman from that band, actually a sax great no less is involved as main protagonist. Still Dreaming, which features the mighty Josh paying tribute to Old and New Dreams a band that …

Published: 18 Dec 2019. Updated: 7 months.

From 2018. My kind of farm is more a band like James Farm. Joshua Redman from that band, actually a sax great no less is involved as main protagonist. Still Dreaming, which features the mighty Josh paying tribute to Old and New Dreams a band that his father revered free saxophonist Dewey Redman (ex Keith Jarrett American Quartet back in the 1970s) was in. Joshua Redman is in a quartet setting with cornetist Ron Miles (in the Don Cherry role), Scott Colley (Charlie Haden if you like in the casting who actually taught Colley) and Brian Blade from the Wayne Shorter Quartet in the Ed Blackwell role.

The tribute has several absorbing layers to it, beyond the Old and New Dreams tributary, the river then continues to run on to find the healing waters of Ornette Coleman and then there is the distinctive Joshua Redman sound and approach framing everything. His unbelievable knack is to make everything he plays very accessible yet never trite and actually quite deep in a very heart on sleeve manner. Just think timbre, intuitive flair, and expressivity aiming for his secret ingredient. The band interplay is open and the music goes places you just would not expect even though as an Atlantic period Ornette fan if you are you know the terrain. Hugely heartening. SG

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Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival, Blue Note

First published in 2015. A Wayne Shorter inspired quintet affair with direct input from Shorter Sound Prints includes new compositions (‘Destination Unknown’ and ‘To Sail Beyond The Sunset’) from the master commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Published: 18 Dec 2019. Updated: 7 months.

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First published in 2015. A Wayne Shorter inspired quintet affair with direct input from Shorter Sound Prints includes new compositions (‘Destination Unknown’ and ‘To Sail Beyond The Sunset’) from the master commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Recorded live at Monterey on 21 September 2013 you get a little buzz of audience anticipation at the beginning. The band moniker Sound Prints references Shorter classic ‘Footprints’ saxophonist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas joined at the Californian festival (famously featured in classic 1971 Clint Eastwood thriller Play Misty for Me) by pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Joey Baron.

Opening with the title track, a sprawling Joe Lovano number, the leaders pull no punches, a blustery squall greeting the listener, the structure of the piece verging on the feel of free-jazz, fractured lines splintering out unceremoniously. ‘Sprints’ (geddit?) a Douglas tune turns the burner down, tinkling exploratory musings from Fields at the beginning a feature, modally charting what he can do as Oh limbers up behind him, the two leaders lurking in the shadows.

A tough no-nonsense kind of record, grounded in the sound of the Second Great Quintet of Miles Davis in which Shorter played such a vital role, the middle part of the album has the two Wayne compositions: firstly ‘Destination Unknown’ that has a pendulum lightness to its bass-led opening, Douglas and Lovano softening as their introductory lines intertwine, the main thurst of the tune retro in a way as is a lot of the album; and then ‘To Sail Beyond the Sunset’ (the title coming from a 1980s sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein that itself borrowed from a Tennyson poem) beginning once more with piano input, Lawrence Fields in a soft balladic space. It is the lovelier of the two pieces, beautifully delivered by the band. Lovano’s ‘Weatherman,’ presumably another reference to Shorter in the title but certainly not a jazz-rock piece (if you continue the whole Weather Report analogy) as this is an acoustic album from start to finish this tune somehow more Ornettian, comes next, and then finally the storming ‘Power Ranger,’ a Douglas tune.

It’s mostly enjoyable stuff although I can’t say I was blown away by everything here more swept along by the sheer vitality of the album and skill of the players. An easy album to admire then and especially of interest in that regard because of the fine new Wayne Shorter tunes.

Dave Douglas, top left, and Joe Lovano. Photo: Blue Note