"One of my earlier reviews here was for Joshua Redman's "Elastic" back in July 2005. At the time I alluded to the way I had always considered Redman to be a though-provoker as opposed to a groover. The former is often useful but I find the latter is always much more fun.
I think I was being kind at the time. The truth is, I'd always seen Redman as a saxophonist who was much too busy trying to be clever. I felt he played from the head rather than from the heart and as a result, a lot of his music left me feeling a bit cold. He acknowledges this jazz phenomenon - though not necessarily in his own playing - on the inner sleeve notes of this CD. An acquaintance apparently said to him:
"Jazz is cool and all, but it's not really my type of thing. I mean, I respect it, but I can't really get into it. I like music that makes me feel something. Jazz isn't really about that. With jazz, you gotta think all the time. Jazz is all complicated and weird. It's for those special types of people who like talking about stuff and figuring things out. Jazz is way too deep for me."
I think that's a sweeping generalisation. I think it only applies to certain kinds of jazz and/or certain kinds of jazz musicians. Redman himself goes on to say that he ackowledges the fact that many consider jazz to be an intellectual music:
"Most people assume that the appreciation of jazz is a long, arduous, and painfully serious cerebral undertaking. Jazz might be good for you but it just isn't any fun. This image is simple, powerful, and dangerously appealing. But it is also egregiously false. Jazz is music. And great jazz, like all great music, attains its value not through intellectual complexity but through emotional expressivity."
Well, he certainly had me fooled. All is forgiven though and he sets about reinforcing his statement on this CD. He doesn't want people to think when they listen to "MoodSwing", he wants them to feel and by Jove, he makes a good job of it. This is no smooth jazz album by any stretch of the imagination but it is accessible, while remaining intellectually and emotionally exciting. In terms of feeling, each listener will obviously take away something different from this CD. But for me, the opener, the hypnotic "Sweet Sorrow" reminds me of a visit to New Orleans some years back, way before the Katrina disaster and thus, it evokes complex emotions. "Chill" with a very interesting solo from Brad Mehldau, makes you feel like doing just that. I could go on and bore readers with the feeling/s I got from each and every tune but that probably wouldn't be wise. Suffice it to say it's a slow winding take-off; the CD only really gets going for me with "Faith" but it's a dream journey all the way to the end.
Some of the songs do remind me of other songs by other musicians - "Alone In The Morning" made me think of Stan Getz, for instance - but I'm cool with that. I don't think there's anything wrong in paying homage to musicians you admire or who may have influenced you, if indeed that is what Redman was doing here. It could all be happy coincidence. He has a dream quartet on hand here and, including himself, each of them - Brad Mehldau on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums are all virtuosos in their own right. Second to "Elastic", I think this is the best Joshua Redman CD I own and one of the best jazz CDs in my collection.
Tasty, if this is what you want
Whispering Veal- | Redington Shores, Florida, USA | 12/18/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This disc is a funny one. The much of the playing is outstanding, and you couldn't ask for a better rhythm section line-up, period. The songs are very professionally polished as well. To me, however, there was a surprising lack of emotional quality to the entire disc. Like some other reviewers, the riffs, changes, and other elements seem very familiar, and must at least have been modeled on other people's songs. That's not a crime (since all art builds on its predecessors), but that sense is very strong with this disc. It reminds me of when my friends and I used to put on an album by the Raspberries and played a game in which we guessed which song had been ripped off for each part of the Raspberries' song. Also, I disagree with the other review that characterizes the sax as "Coltranesque". To me, the sax playing on this record is much more in line with Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr., and Boots Randolph than with the Coltrane, Shorter, Kenny Garrett line of players. In the end, the disc is worth buying and listening to for the piano, bass and drums, which are as good as it ever gets despite the cliched nature of the songs."
Joshua Mood does Swing
Eric V. Chapman | Long Beach, CA USA | 09/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While familiar with him as an reed player and yet unable to identify his playing by ear, I have seen this man perform live and like his live performances, this CD is a real gem for Jazz lovers. Joshua's "Chill" and "Alone In The Morning" are my two favorite on this CDs, yet the hold CD is great especially for acoustic Jazz lovers. I was pleasantly surprise to find out it was Brad Mehldau playing piano, but the whole group are tight and funky. "
This Music gets me in the Right Mood!
A Minstrel in the Gallery | Portsmouth, New Hampshire USA | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cd reminded me why I love jazz so much. It captures all those qualities that make this genre of music so wonderful and unique, from the moments of subtle beauty and mystery, to infectious beats and soaring solos that make your hands and feet want to start moving at once! I absolutely love this album. My personal favorite tracks are "Faith" and "Past in the Present" but to be honest, every song on this cd is a winner! In Redman's sound you can hear a little of Sonny Rollins, and of course Coltrane's influence on tunes such as "The Oneness of Two", but there is something contemporary and modern here as well. Captured on this disc is a virtuoso sax player looking back and into the future of his art simultaneously. I have bought more of Joshua Redman's music, but in my opinion this cd is his best effort. Even if you like jazz just a little bit, you MUST listen to this cd. When the last funky notes fade away, you will be a jazz addict, desperate for that musical high it provides!"