Lis­ten­ing’s key to Redman’s Dream­ing

The Georgia Straight - - Music - By

AS MIS­SION state­ments go, it’s hard to top the first track from Still Dream­ing’s epony­mous de­but. “New Year” opens with a loose fan­fare, trum­pet, tenor sax­o­phone, and bass har­mo­niz­ing a jaunty line atop play­fully rau­cous drums. A minute in, all four mu­si­cians take off in a rocket-fu­elled game of tag, be­fore re­con­ven­ing around the open­ing line. Af­ter that, band­leader Joshua Redman eases into an un­abashedly swing­ing sax solo that sub­tly ref­er­ences Sonny Rollins; trum­peter Ron Miles shows that two can play that game by ex­plic­itly quot­ing the tenor ti­tan’s catchy “St. Thomas”; bassist Scott Col­ley and drum­mer Brian Blade trade ami­able fours; and then the head re­turns—although this time, the drums are play­ing the melody, too.

A num­ber of things are re­mark­able about this band, not least that its mu­sic sounds both fresh and fa­mil­iar. And that fresh­ness is es­pe­cially sur­pris­ing, given that Still Dream­ing is a kind of trib­ute band, and the band it’s pay­ing trib­ute to was it­self pay­ing homage to an even ear­lier quar­tet.

“We’ve kind of formed our­selves as a cel­e­bra­tion of this band Old and New Dreams,” Redman says, re­fer­ring to the en­sem­ble that his fa­ther, Dewey Redman, had with Or­nette Cole­man alumni Don Cherry, Ed Black­well, and Char­lie Haden be­tween 1976 and 1987. Old and New Dreams’ re­mit was to keep build­ing on the acous­tic ap­proach Cole­man in­tro­duced in the 1950s, which Redman says is based on “a free way of play­ing—a way of play­ing where you have to im­pro­vise form at the same time that you’re im­pro­vis­ing melodies”.

En­sur­ing that this “free jazz” ap­proach hasn’t been done to death is the fact that to do it well re­quires con­sum­mate mu­si­cian­ship. Hav­ing worked with the best of the best, Redman and his band­mates cer­tainly meet that re­quire­ment, but even more ex­traor­di­nary than their play­ing is their lis­ten­ing. Spend some time with Still Dream­ing, and you’ll hear a stream of sub­tle in­terac­tions be­tween the four play­ers, all gen­er­ated spon­ta­neously.

“I’m glad that you iden­ti­fied that as­pect of it, be­cause that is one of the most im­por­tant at­ti­tudes that you can have as an im­pro­vis­ing jazz mu­si­cian to­day—a real value placed on lis­ten­ing,” Redman says, adding that his band­mates are “three of the sweet­est and most soul­ful and most sen­si­tive hu­man be­ings I’ve known. Ev­ery­one is just so nice and so cool. And in this case, I think ev­ery­one’s per­son­al­ity re­ally is re­flected in the way they play.

“You hear sto­ries about some amaz­ing jazz mu­si­cians who could break your heart play­ing the most beau­ti­ful, sen­si­tive, lyri­cal, and melan­cholic mu­sic, and maybe some of them didn’t have the best rep­u­ta­tion in terms of how they treated other peo­ple,” he con­tin­ues. “So I don’t know if that’s al­ways true, but in the case of this band, I think it is.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.