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High Art From Joshua Redman

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Monday November 25, 2013

From The Chicago Tribune

High art from Joshua Redman and Muhal Richard Abrams at Orchestra Hall
By: Howard Reich

Can contemporary jazz improvisation be both challenging and accessible? Smart and attractive? Ultra-sophisticated and thoroughly comprehensible?

The answers were decidedly affirmative on Friday night in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center, where tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman played a deeply satisfying set that never pandered to popular tastes yet drew warm ovations nonetheless.

Leading his taut quartet in mostly original work, Redman reaffirmed several facets of his art: the translucence of his tone, the intricacies of his phrase-making and the appealing idiosyncrasies of his compositional style. Yet no matter how complex the music-making became, Redman projected it with dramatic force, bringing rhetorical flourish to even the most rarefied ideas, no small feat.

He opened with the serene, solo passages of his “Final Hour,” from his newest album, “Walking Shadows.” The equanimity of his tone, plus its utter lack of vibrato, showed the remarkable control he brings to the tenor saxophone and set the stage for the hard swing eruptions of his “Leap of Faith.” In that work, Redman indicated his conversance with classic bebop phraseology, the man letting one fast-flying line careen into the next.

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