Joshua Redman Essay, Research Paper
“Freedom in the Groove”
History of Jazz
March 4, 1999
Prof. Adam Kolker
The album “freedom in the Groove” features Joshua Redman with a small ensemble of Bass, electric guitar, and drums. In different songs Redman plays the alto, soprano and tenor saxophone. The CD shows many different aspects of Jazz, spanning many different feels, tempos and intonation.
I was really impressed with the diversity of the album. The typical song on features Redman soloing over the standard rhythm section of the bass, piano and drum set. Occasionally Redman will trade solos with the piano or the guitar, but obviously the album mainly features the saxophone. Despite this, Redman and his small ensemble show an incredible amount of diversity.
The CD starts out with what I would consider to be your typical Jazz tune, “Hide and Seek.” An alto saxophone soloing over the rhythm section, with the piano throwing in a little counter melody or even sharing the spot light with a solo or two. However, as soon as the second song begins I realized that there is a lot more to Joshua Redman than the “typical” jazz song. “One shining Soul” gives out a much more laid back feel to it. The Saxophone and guitar share the melody for much of the song giving me flash backs to the dentist office or an elevator. The group then picks up the pace with “Streams Of Consciousness” which features a much more up beat feel, making me want to tap my foot. Redman again takes the solo with an extremely fast pace, using the full range of the tenor sax. The thing I enjoyed most about this tune was the electric guitar solo toward the end. The laid back sound gives a big contrast to the up beat feel of the song.
The remainder of the CD seems to have the feel of one of the first three songs, adding a little variety with some blues sound, a little call and response, and some stop time rhythm. However, I was really captivated by the sixth song on the CD entitled “Invocation.” The song begins with a tenor sax solo, which makes me picture an old mystery movie. The added reverb on the sax gives the idea that he is playing in an open hall. The entire song is very free form. There is very seldom a noticeable rhythm; definitely not something the normal person would tap their foot to. The percussion consists of seemingly random entrances on a high-hat or a tom drum that fade in and out giving you no real sense of a rhythm. The solos are also very free, seeming to leave a lot of room for Redman or the pianist to really express themselves. The song proceeds like this for a few minutes and seems to climax in a mess of chaos. Random percussion entrances, short runs on the saxophone, clashing notes on the piano and guitar. You can just feel the tension in the part. The intensity is amazing, especially with all that is happening.
Just when I was thinking the tune couldn’t get anymore unorthodox, an incredible beat seems to come out of the mess of noise. Like the fog had just lift and the sun shone through. As the song begins to come to a close it very slowly fades out to the sound of a lone bass. As I listen I picture a musician practicing alone on stage. I really enjoyed the solo; the harshness of the musician on the strings really adds something.
I can’t really describe why this song was so captivating. It must have been the different sound that really grabbed me. Like the dissonance that makes someone cringe, but adds so much to the song. For other than “Invocation,” I was relatively unimpressed with the CD. Not that the playing wasn’t excellent, just that it lacked something that grabbed my attention. It didn’t have what it takes to make these songs stand out above any other jazz musician