Joshua Redman's "Engaging" New Album

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Monday May 20, 2013

From Pop Matters

Joshua Redman: Walking Shadows
By: John Garratt

A blues guitarist once told me that, when judging the musicianship of others, he always paid close attention to how they finished their notes. This rule of thumb echoed around my brain as I watched two saxophones duke it out late one night at a club in my hometown. They played fast, they played with groove, but their notes were not pure from start to finish. The notes concluded either too raggedly or not at all, shifting all the emphasis to the start of the notes. But saxophonist Joshua Redman is not that kind of musician. Each note is created equally in the eyes of his horn, even the fast ones. And what better way to illustrate this virtue than on an album of ballads?

Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau have a working relationship that dates back to 1994’s Mood Swing (In the liner notes for Metheny Mehldau, guitarist Pat Metheny tells a charming tale of hearing Mehldau’s work on Mood Swing, causing him to pull over to the side of the road). Redman has handed the production reins for Walking Shadows to Mehldau, giving it a far different flavor than Redman’s past albums. Under the supervision of James Farber (or occasionally Redman himself), Joshua Redman’s albums took a more-or-less strict approach to the hard bop saxophone quartet. With Mehldau calling the shots, Walking Shadows unsurprisingly has more in common with a Mehldau album, from the unorthodox choice of covers, through the gentle orchestration, to the arrival of music that is not purely jazz but is genuinely jazzy.

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