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Joshua Redman's "New Levels of Prowess"

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Friday June 07, 2013

From The New York Times

Navigating Surely (With a Steady Horn) Between Quartet and Orchestra
Joshua Redman at Town Hall
By: Nate Chinen

…And the concert, which opened with “Final Hour,” a slow-flickering duet between Mr. Redman and Mr. Mehldau, was a radiant embodiment of that ideal. The jazz quartet occupied one side of the stage, and the Knights, a New York chamber orchestra, took up the other, with Dan Coleman at the conductor’s podium. But when the music called for it, there was an impressive blend between the two parties.

It happened during “The Folks Who Live on the Hill,” arranged by Mr. Redman and Mr. Coleman in an old-Hollywood style, and during a romantic but artfully tense “Lush Life,” orchestrated by Patrick Zimmerli. And it happened on Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” which Mr. Coleman had imbued with tremulous luster, framing Mr. Redman’s soprano.

As on “Walking Shadows,” which was produced by Mr. Mehldau, the concert had a sense of breath and pace, with Mr. Redman as the only constant. There were pieces for orchestra but no rhythm section, like Mr. Mehldau’s arrangement of “Easy Living,” which achieved its glassy disquiet with flute, French horn and a twilight stir of modulations for the strings. There were small-combo pieces, including, in descending order of appeal, covers by Blonde Redhead, Chico Buarque and John Mayer. A Bach adagio was played by Mr. Redman and Mr. Grenadier, in an austere reduction of counterpoint.

Mr. Redman has always been a fluid technician, but the inner glow in his tone throughout the night, along with the grace and clarity of his ideas, suggested new levels of prowess.

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