The title Freedom in the Groove expresses the challenge saxophonist Joshua Redman has set for himself: is it possible to practice true jazz improvisation within the soul, funk, and hip-hop rhythms of the past 30 years? Red... more »man takes a different approach than most fusion experiments; instead of plugging in, he has retained his acoustic pianist Peter Martin and his acoustic bassist Christopher Thomas, and has added only electric guitarist Peter Bernstein, who plays more in the hollow-body style of Kenny Burrell than the solid-body style of Mike Stern. Redman responds to this stimulus with sax solos that more than ever resemble gospel-soul singer vocals--at once boldly assertive, yet confessionally open. --Geoffrey Himes« less
The title Freedom in the Groove expresses the challenge saxophonist Joshua Redman has set for himself: is it possible to practice true jazz improvisation within the soul, funk, and hip-hop rhythms of the past 30 years? Redman takes a different approach than most fusion experiments; instead of plugging in, he has retained his acoustic pianist Peter Martin and his acoustic bassist Christopher Thomas, and has added only electric guitarist Peter Bernstein, who plays more in the hollow-body style of Kenny Burrell than the solid-body style of Mike Stern. Redman responds to this stimulus with sax solos that more than ever resemble gospel-soul singer vocals--at once boldly assertive, yet confessionally open. --Geoffrey Himes
"Since he burst onto the jazz scene in the early 90's, Joshua Redman has constantly redefined the role of the jazz musician. Without abandoning his jazz roots he has found innumerable ways to advance the art of music. His musical sensibilities allow him to demonstrate tremendous musicality while at the same time making everything he plays popularly accessible.This album was the point at which his stunning synthesis of genres really came into its own. Redman always records with only the finest musicians, and this album demonstrates it clearly with all four of the supporting cast truly understanding Redman's music and his mission. Brian Blade is the best drummer out there as far as I'm concerned (check out his CD "Perceptual" w/ the Brian Blade Fellowship). Peter Bernstien works the guitar, Peter Martin on piano, and Christopher Thomas handles the bass. All three of these guys are probably in the top 10 of young musicians on their respective instruments.The entire album is great, and it's quite easy to play straight through, but I have a few favorite tunes. "Cat Battles" is awesome; great melody, great changes and great soloing by everybody. The first track, "Hide and Seek", is just cool, if only for Redman's incredible intro. I have some friends who live by "When the Sun Comes Down", and I sure can't argue with the fact that its a beautiful song.This and his next two releases "Timeless Tales" and "Beyond" might very well be the future of jazz, and I wouldn't be at all disappointed if they were."
Definitely a good thing.
Thomas Hoberg | Oberlin, OH United States | 06/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've recently read a couple critics who actually use terms such as "rather disappointing" and "bland" in reference to this CD. I have to wonder exactly what these critics are listening for as they reach these conclusions; to me, Redman, backed up by an absolutely phenomenal rhythm section, offers forth an intense display of energy and musicianship. I don't see how it is possible that somebody could listen to this CD with open ears and not notice how incredibly exciting the music is. Anybody who can't hear raw creativity and energy on "Freedom in the Groove" is thinking too much, in my humble opinion. I don't remember if it was Pops, Miles, or Duke that said, "If it sounds good, it is good." But this music is very, very good.It should be noted that the rhythm section is rock solid throughout, and the entire quintet really meshes nicely during solos and so forth. Certainly, some of Redman's later music is brilliant as well. But this album shouldn't be overlooked in the least."
Perfect balance of soul and skill
firstname.lastname@example.org | 06/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is by far my favorite Joshua Redman recording, along with his playing on Chick Corea's Tribute to Bud Powell (1997). Some of his older recordings were too flashy for me, and the Times Changing session too "academic." On this session, however, Redman finds the perfect blend of unity and variety. The grooves are inspiring, and the melodies are bluesy yet very unique. Harmonically adventurous, yet soulful and spirited. I would even venture so far as to call this session the Blue Trane of the 90's."
Great CD in my book.
email@example.com | 06/21/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD has gotten some bad press from different sources, and I really have to disagree. Some people say it is too much like "Light Jazz" but believe me, it's not, you will not see any sings of Kenny G. on this album. Redman experiments with Alto and Soprano, along with his normal tenor playing. I think it's a great step for him because he is on the verge on finding his own sound. I think the jazz critics are just a little bit upset because he has turned away from being a "standard" player and is becoming Contemporary, and making a name for himself. He is very young, and one of the jazz legends of the future. If you are interested in Redman, you should also get his live album at the Village Vanguard."
A great post-bop disc.
Andy Williamson | Chicago, IL | 05/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc has some great moments on it, especially 'One Shining Soul' 'Cat Battles' and 'Pantomime'. All are standouts. Josh sounds really good-full, moving all over the scale with blistering arpeggios and soft, smooth glissandos. An aire of commercialism hangs over this disc-not that that is bad or good-it just is. The songs are generally taught throughout, though a few tracks seems to lose focus occasionally. The interplay between Redman and his band is quite tight, yet they swing nicely.Recommended."