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Listening is key in 'Still Dreaming'

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Thursday November 01, 2018

From The Georgia Sraight

Listening’s key to Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming
By: Alexander Varty

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”.

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