Smart jazz still strikes the soul

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Wednesday December 07, 2011


Smart jazz still strikes the soul
By: Ashleigh Wilson

Joshua Redman, the saxophonist born into jazz royalty, the handsome young man once described by the Harvard Crimson as the “quintessential Harvard student”, was railing against intellectualism in jazz. The year was 1994, and Redman, newly signed to a major record label, had penned a 1000-word essay about jazz for the liner notes of his new album, Moodswing.

The album was a collection of deeply moving tunes, each designed to evoke specific moods, and it featured a young, relatively unknown pianist named Brad Mehldau, whose talents were just starting to create a buzz in the music world.

“Jazz is suffering today,” Redman wrote, “but not in the way you might think.” His point was that jazz had developed a reputation as heavy, intellectual music when in fact it should be seen as a music of emotions that was meant to “enrich the spirit”.

Seventeen years on, aged 42 and preparing for an Australian tour with Mehldau, now a jazz superstar in his own right, Redman laughs when reminded about his youthful outburst.

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