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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Sunday, 15 October 2023 01:24

Joshua Redman - Where Are We

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Saxist Joshua Redman’s album explores US geography in song.

There’s no easy way to describe the tracks on the latest album from Joshua Redman, Where Are We, except as a collection of mash-ups. Redman takes a collection of songs about places that help form the geography of the United States and pairs them with well-known tunes, but this conceptual framework never stands in the way of this music.

Redman’s first album on Blue Note Records is also his first with a vocalist. ‘where are we’ features Gabrielle Cavassa, with a highly collaborative band of Brian Blade (drums), Aaron Parks (piano) and Joe Sanders (bass) alongside guests Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein (guitars), Joel Ross (vibraphone), and Nicholas Payton (trumpet).

Redman takes each song and rearranges it with hints of songs from folk and popular music to tour around the United States. The only song that moves away from that is the title track, which is something of an existential question that moves beyond the geographic.

Where the music takes over and one can ignore the concept lies in tracks like the hypnotic By The Time I Get To Phoenix.

Listen to Phoenix here:

Explaining the idea of mixing different songs in his arrangements, Redman says: “The mashups were a secondary concept that first emerged while I was considering an arrangement of I Left My Heart in San Francisco, and then Monk’s San Francisco Holiday just sort of popped unannounced into my head.”

In this first album as a Blue Note recording artist, the sax player explains why he chose to give the front of the stage to vocalist Gabrielle: “Doing a record with a vocalist was something I thought I’d probably get to eventually, but that ‘eventually’ was starting to sound like glorified procrastination or avoidance! Honestly, I think I was kind of torn. I’ve always had a sort of ‘rhythm section envy’ - wishing I could be more of an embedded participant in an underlying, supportive groove - but at the same time, I think in my primary role as a saxophonist in instrumental groups, I was used to being a lead voice, and I secretly didn’t want to relinquish all that melodic control! Maybe being locked down during the pandemic gave me time (too much time!) to think about all of this... I guess I decided I was ‘ready.’”

You’ll be able to catch Redman and his band at the Barbican on 12 November as part of the London Jazz Festival.

Read 852 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 October 2023 09:38

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