A superstar jazz matchup, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman features maverick trio the Bad Plus joined by acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman. Recorded after the group's weeklong stint at New York's Blue Note jazz club in 2012, the album is an organic collaboration between Redman and Bad Plus members pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King. Largely known for their genre-bending compositional take on jazz, here the Bad Plus take a more improvisational, open-ended approach to group interplay. Conversely, Redman, an adroit, long-form improviser, finds new avenues of jazz expression within the context of this new group sound. This conversational approach is perhaps best represented on the ensemble's reworking of the Bad Plus songs "Dirty Blonde" and "Silence Is the Question." While both songs retain the core vibe of the original recordings (bombastic in the case of the first and poignant in the second), here Redman brings a vibrant electricity to the compositions, widening their scope with his woody, vocal-like saxophone tone. While hearing these Bad Plus songs re-envisioned is intriguing, the core appeal of the album rests largely in Redman and the trio's newly composed pieces, like the languidly atonal "Beauty Has It Hard" and the frenetically rambling "County Seat." These tracks, as well as the gorgeously fractured Thelonious Monk-influenced "The Mending" and the dizzy, circular, Dave Brubeck-sounding "Friend or Foe," are compelling recordings that sound as modern and immediate as they do steeped in the acoustic jazz tradition. Ultimately, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman sounds less like a collaboration between two separate entities and more like the assured work of a unified band.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar