Review: ‘Joshua Redman Quartet’

Over two hours of rigorous performance, the Joshua Redman Quartet provided testimony to the young saxophonist's mantra: Jazz, when played well, reaches far beyond the realm of the cerebral and communicates from the belly of raw emotion. Cool and confident -- all white collars and gray gabardine -- these young talents succeeded with an edgy soulful batch of jazz in a one-night-only performance.

Over two hours of rigorous performance, the Joshua Redman Quartet provided testimony to the young saxophonist’s mantra: Jazz, when played well, reaches far beyond the realm of the cerebral and communicates from the belly of raw emotion. Cool and confident — all white collars and gray gabardine — these young talents succeeded with an edgy soulful batch of jazz in a one-night-only performance.

Opening with “Mischief” from Redman’s third and latest Warner Bros. release “Moodswing,” he soloed a stream of low grumbles and then quickly stood aside, leaving celebrated bassist Christian McBride to drive the rest of the song with pianist Brad Mehldau smoothly layering bluesy bits over McBride’s ingenious groove.

Redman proved that the art of letting go is deeply embedded in a technical mastery of the music.

He flew caustically into sheer experimentation marked by a playful physicality. He jutted his shoulders, winked in self-parody on high notes and cheered enthusiastically during his down time.

Guest saxophonist Joe Lovano battled with Redman on “Blues Up and Down”; Lovano was long and generous with his notes, Redman held back and plotted quick crescendos and fluttering low stretches to a scorching end.

While Redman’s rising star certainly makes Town Hall’s size an appropriate venue, the cavernous space of stone, chandeliers and red velvet impeded musician and audience interaction. A smaller lair, such as Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood where the band will perform Dec. 27-Jan. 1, may be the perfect setting for this astute young band.

Joshua Redman Quartet

(Town Hall, New York; 1,500 seats; $ 32.50 top)

Production

Presented by New Audiences. Reviewed Dec. 2, 1994.

Cast

Band: Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade; guest soloists: Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove.

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