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Joshua Redman: An Uncommon 'Riddle'

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Friday May 25, 2012

From A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

An Uncommon ‘Riddle’: Joshua Redman Covers His Musical Peer
By: Patrick Jarenwattananon

In addition to being a very good performance of a very likeable song, this YouTube clip is a very specific and increasingly rare type of cover.

The performers are the Joshua Redman Trio: Reuben Rogers on bass, Gregory Hutchinson on drums, Redman on alto saxophone. (He usually plays tenor or soprano, so this is unusual.) And the tune is “Riddle Me This,” by Aaron Parks, who is roughly Redman’s contemporary. As you see, Aaron Parks is not on this gig, nor could he, as a pianist, possibly play in the Joshua Redman Trio.

“Riddle Me This” was first recorded on Parks’ 2008 album Invisible Cinema. It sounds fairly simple at first listen, but the score is actually quite intricate, with lots of highly specific rhythms, a constantly fluctuating tonal center and a long form that takes nearly two minutes to get through. Redman’s version here, recorded Feb. 10, 2012 during a European tour, accomplishes the nifty trick of making the complex sound alive, soulful, foot-tapping, hummable.

You would think that “jazz bandleader calls a tune by his or her contemporary” is a fairly common occurrence. Jazz musicians’ careers depend on playing in each others’ bands — and, by extension, playing each others’ tunes. It certainly happened in the past, in a way that’s inscribed Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter tunes into standard repertoire.

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