Joshua Redman

Still Dreaming

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On his buoyant 2018 album Still Dreaming, Joshua Redman evokes the spirit of his late father, saxophonist Dewey Redman (who died in 2006), and the elder Redman's adventurous work with longtime friend and bandleader Ornette Coleman. Specifically, the younger Redman draws inspiration from Coleman's Old and New Dreams band, which also featured his father along with cornetist Don Cherry, drummer Ed Blackwell, and bassist Charlie Haden. An outgrowth of Coleman's earlier '60s quartet, Old and New Dreams (which was active from 1976 to 1987) was a boundary-pushing ensemble rife with bluesy lyricism, atonal harmonics, and frenetic swing. This was heady free jazz, but with an earthy '70s soulfulness. Much the same could be said of Redman's group here, as each of the players in his quartet, including trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade, has a similarly kinetic, almost preternatural sense for group interplay. Here, they play a mix of newly penned originals plus two covers, inspired by Coleman's band but in their own thoughtfully mutative style. As modern-day torchbearers of Coleman's forward-thinking jazz sound, Redman and his bandmates are fairly well matched. Cornetist Miles has long evinced the probing qualities of Cherry's "freebop" style. Similarly, Blade has a driving, organic rhythmic sense that recalls Blackwell, and Colley literally studied with Haden. For Redman's part, the lithe, aqueous quality of his playing feels right at home within the slippery quartet. Tracks like the jaunty bop-inflected "New Year" and the nervy klezmer-funk of "Unanimity" feel like lost bonus tracks from This Is Our Music-era Coleman. Similarly, cuts like the languid "Haze and Aspirations," with its extended bass intro, and the spare, aptly titled "Blues for Charlie," with its call-and-response group improv, bring to mind the rootsy Old and New Dreams sound of the late '70s. Elsewhere, Redman applies a classical artist's sense for a reverent interpretation of Haden's "Playing" and Coleman's "Comme Il Faut," as he and his band vacillate between long dissonant lines and aggressive, molecular sparring.

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