Picking up on Herbie Hancock's "New Standards" idea, borrowing some old standards, and splitting the total down the middle, Joshua Redman lends his warm fatback tone, arching skyward passages and a post-bop quartet concept to ten popular songs of the 20th century. Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, and the Gershwins share space with the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Prince -- distinguished songwriters all, yet the scorecard tells us that the oldsters' tunes consistently receive more interesting treatment than the rock/folk songs. "Yesterdays" is flexible enough to turn almost into an acoustic funk thing; "How Deep Is the Ocean" saunters along very soulfully; the near cha cha rhythm on "Love for Sale" pulls some inspired heat from Redman. On the other side of the divide, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" isn't very interesting, where even tricky rhythm changes and an Eddie Harris-like high note coda can't pump up an earthbound performance. "Eleanor Rigby" fragments under a jazz waltz treatment presumably planned with Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" in mind (Redman's soprano sounds desperately out of gas at the close). Oddly enough, a broadly funky Harris approach pays off on Prince's "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore," the sole exception to the pattern. This is not to say that the rock/folk material is intrinsically inferior to the Tin Pan Alley standards -- no way. They simply do not translate very well into the language of the young neo-boppers, or at least, these neo-boppers on this given day. Brad Mehldau (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass) and Brian Blade (drums) make up the technically faultless, flexible piano trio, and most of the selections are separated by short, untitled interludes that usually grow more or less out of the preceding pieces.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell