Who's the Redman? Where's the Redman?
Joshua Redman's new album, Back East, is a tribute of sorts to some of the most influential figures that have inspired his music, including his father, the late saxophonist Dewey Redman, and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano. Back East was most notably influenced by another of Redman's inlfuences, Sonny Rollins, and his album Way Out West which was the first to feature the trio of sax, drums, and bass. Naturally, Redman's instrumentation for his current release features this combination and is interestingly his first acoustic trio recording.
I went to check out JR and his trio at Catalina's on Sunset this past week.
I noticed some signature Redmanian sounds such as the "squalk" used often by aforementioned influence Joe Lovanno, most notably on the North African-sounding "Zarafah" which serves to further the theme of East vs West that JR is exploring on Back East. As far as the performance goes, however, there was something that was just, well, missing. The thing I noticed the most was just how bland his music sounded. Now, don't get me wrong: Redman is an accocmplished saxophonist with an extensive discography. Despite this, I kind of felt as though I was watching someone's music recital at an Ivy League school. It wasn't helped by the fact that all members of the trio were wearing a uniform of faded jeans, button-down Oxfords, and shaved heads. I felt like I was back in private school in New York (maybe this is the look he was going for with the whole East vs. West dynamic). I wish I could say that I had a sonic experience that I will never forget. I didn't, but what I will say is that if there was anyone who turned it out on that stage it was drummer Eric Harland. He kept my interest away from my pomegranate liqueur many times.
Because JR did not divulge the entire setlist to the audience, I cannot specifically remark upon what was played. But there was an interesting "sax beat-boxing" thing that my companion remarked on that was actually kind of cool. Unfortunately, that was the last song of the set and I ended up feeling like I went out on a great date that ended all too quickly. All in all, this was a decent show. If you're in the area, and you have the time by all means go.
BTW, I highly recommend that pomegranate liqueur and any drinks made with it.
Joshua Redman trio at Catalina's Bar and Grill
Showtimes are 8:30 and 10:30
Tonite's their last nite in LA...
6725 West Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood California 90028
Special thanks to Phil Gillespie