Joshua Redman Quartet
Come What May
In the two decades since the Joshua Redman Quartet last recorded together their leader has gone in all directions as featured soloist, cameo artist and collaborator (The Bad Plus, Brad Mehldau) working with tone and timbre to shape his playing and songwriting.
The same is true of the members of this group – with Aaron Goldberg (piano) now well established as a trio leader in his own right, Reuben Rogers (bass) the powerhouse behind Charles Lloyd’s recent dazzling quartet and Gregory Hutchinson (drums) the journeyman; his work has included playing with this rhythm section buddies from the Redman quartet on their respective solo/band joints also. So there’s a tightness, instantly, to these friends returning to this entity. And a wealth of collective experience.
Here they serve under Redman, serving his songs, as Come What May is comprised of seven Redman originals. But there’s ample space for the players to shine. Goldberg taking moments on I’ll Go Mine and DGAF in particular as well as framing the closing ballad, Vast. Rogers and Hutchinson rock out together, driving Stagger Bear towards an almost Stevie Wonder vibe, Hutchinson’s funky jazz chops shine on How We Do, as Redman blows bop across the top. And Rogers can be felt every step of the way, particularly though on the exciting opener, Circle of Life (a total band showcase – a “look, we’re back!” statement) and the arresting balladry of the title track.
Redman is sublime throughout – blowing the big notes, shaping the songs, making space for his creative players.
It feels like not only one of the great jazz albums of the year but one of the great jazz albums of the last decade or more. No huge tricks, just great compositions and playing. No attempt to ‘update’ anything, whilst also not feeling like a determined ‘throwback to a time’. It’s comfortable with both feet in today and just a wink to the past, an acknowlegement.
Joshua Redman’s work across the last decade in particular has been sublime, from his amazing duo record with Brad Mehldau, Highway Rider to last year’s covers-heavy Still Dreaming.
A class player, growing all the time, constantly improving with age. Here, for now at least, is his small-combo masterpiece. This is the jazz album you buy to introduce people to the genre, and the one you recommend to impress your already learned friends. Most importantly though it’s the one you sit down with and love on first listen. And then find so much to enjoy on each subsequent sitting.
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