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Joshua Redman Sets a New Standard for Standards

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Thursday June 27, 2013

From The Montreal Gazette

Setting a new standard for standards
By: Juan Rodriguez

That saxophonist Joshua Redman has recorded an album of classic, mainly old songs accompanied by string arrangements is nothing new for virtuoso jazz soloists. Charlie Parker did it in the 1940s, to considerable controversy (i.e. “selling out”) and since then so have Bill Evans, Joe Lovano and a host of others, who have proved you don’t have to turn saccharine with strings. And there lies a conundrum: How does Redman, who performs with strings on Saturday, respect the integrity of tunes that have been often “done to death” while injecting his own soul into them?

“That’s very important but, in a way, something I can’t think about too much,” he says thoughtfully over the phone.

“I have to trust my instincts. If I think too much about how many times Lush Life has been recorded, and how many great seminal versions of these old classics have been done, it can be so intimidating as to be debilitating.

“The first thing is picking songs that I do feel I have a connection with, whether they’ve been recorded once or a thousand times. Some are famous, some are a little more obscure. It’s about finding repertoire that I connect with, and feel challenged by, and have something to say with.

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