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First Listen: 'Still Dreaming'

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Thursday May 17, 2018

From NPR

First Listen: Joshua Redman, ‘Still Dreaming’
By: Nate Chinen

From the album’s opening track, a Colley composition called “New Year,” you hear the soulful crosstalk and jostling cadence of Old and New Dreams’ style — and by extension, Coleman’s. The rhythmic undertow in this band feels true to its inspiration, as does the airtight-yet-relaxed rapport between Redman and Miles. (Hear how they phrase the stutter-stepping melody on Redman’s aptly titled “Unanimity.”)

All but two of the tracks on the album, which clocks in at a tight 40 minutes, are new pieces by members of the band. And those two exceptions are persuasive. “Playing,” a coltish theme by Haden, yields vibrant results — not quite as wild and thrashing as the original studio version, but still full of urgency and spirit. It flows right into Coleman’s “Comme Il Faut,” from the 1969 album Crisis, which Redman’s crew interprets with the solemn concentration of a liturgy.

There’s more equipoise and eloquence here, in conventional terms, than there was in Old and New Dreams. But because each musician brings so much earnest conviction to the table, that feels right and just; the music wouldn’t ring truthful otherwise.

And it’s not overstating the case to say that this framework stretches the musicians in salutary ways. When Redman begins his tenor solo a few minutes into “Blues For Charlie,” his blurry vocality actually evokes Joe Lovano (a lifelong Dewey fan), without tipping into ventriloquism. On “Haze and Aspirations,” a gorgeous Colley waltz, the tenor solo is a marvel of emotional resonance and thematic coherence — a world of expression, compressed into a minute’s time.

Check out a sneak peek of the album here