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Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming

August 3, 8:00 PM

Bing Concert Hall

General Admission

$30 student & youth / $40 / $70 / $95 / $110

SJW members (Jazz Fan level and above)

$24 student & youth / $34 / $64 / $89 / $104

Ticket prices include all fees; what you see is what you pay.

Personnel:

Joshua Redman, saxophone
Ron Miles, trumpet
Scott Colley, bass
Dave King, drums

About Joshua Redman and Still Dreaming

For his most recent project, Joshua Redman was inspired by the band Old and New Dreams, which featured legendary Ornette Coleman collaborators cornetist Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Ed Blackwell, and Joshua’s father, Dewey Redman on reeds. The Still Dreaming ensemble pays tribute to their inspiration without recreating their sound, projecting an intimate beauty that honors the honest artistic vision that was Old and New Dreams.

As Redman told NPR’s Jazz Night in America: “Each of us has a kind of special relationship to the corresponding instrumentalist in Old and New Dreams.” Redman told the Boston Globe that Old and New Dreams “were able to play very free, and at times abstract, thorny music. But at the same time there was a folk quality — whether a connection to the blues, or with African music, or with very powerful, simple melodies. Their music had a vulnerability and a poignant lyricism. That balance was something very special.” He continued, “It’s not our mission to go back and rediscover some Golden Age. I’m hoping this is a band that has a lot of future ahead.”

With support from Stanford Live. Sponsored by Nicola Miner & Robert Mailer Anderson and the Stanford Jazz Workshop Board of Directors.

Joshua Redman Still Dreaming program notes

Joshua Redman half-jokes that Still Dreaming is “a tribute to a tribute band,” as the all-star quartet expands on the music of Old and New Dreams, a beloved group of Ornette Coleman collaborators that recorded four albums between 1976 and 1987 featuring his father, tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Eddie Blackwell, and trumpeter Don Cherry (all now sadly gone). Joshua and his bandmates are offering a tribute to an epochal cadre of musicians who pioneered new approaches to rhythm, form, and harmony that opened up vast new territory for exploration while remaining rooted in elemental blues and folk sounds.

The idea for Still Dreaming emerged in the aftermath of the New York City memorial concert for Haden in January 2015, where Scott Colley, a Haden protégé who studied with him at Cal Arts, was the only bassist on a program studded with jazz royalty. As it dawned on Redman that Haden was the last member of Old and New Dreams to depart, he thought the time was right to celebrate that music. “I immediately had a sense of who I’d ask to be in the band, and everyone got back to me that day,” Redman says. “The first time we played the chemistry really clicked. Of course that had something to do with those guys, just incredible musicians, but it’s also that Old and New Dreams was very important for all of us. Each of us has had some deep sort of connection with it and the corresponding player.”

He had never worked with cornetist Ron Miles before forming the band, but loving his sound and knowing of his passion for Don Cherry’s music, the cornetist was an obvious choice. Redman is hardly the only jazz luminary besotted with Miles’ warn, gleaming tone. The Denver-based cornetist already had deep ties with Blade, who plays in his Circuit Rider Trio with guitarist Bill Frisell. Miles is also a member of pianist/composer Myra Melford’s celebrated ensemble Snowy Egret.

Blade spent years on the road with Redman as a member of his quartet, and like Blackwell, grew up in Louisiana. For a European tour earlier this summer, The Bad Plus drummer Dave King took over the drum chair, a role he reprises tonight. Redman bonded with King a few years ago when he performed widely with The Bad Plus, which led to the acclaimed 2015 album The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (Nonesuch Records).

Reporting from the road in Europe, Colley said, “Dave is a truly brilliant musician and has immediately found his unique place in this group. Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. Why I think he fits so well in this group is that he has a very deep groove. No matter which direction the band takes, he creates a feeling within the rhythm that, from the standpoint of a bass player, feels amazing.”

Part of what makes the band so compelling is the rhythmic freedom they embrace in pieces by Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. The tunes are relatively simple, with sturdy, evocative melodies. Redman and Miles often provide accompaniment for King and Colley, erasing the distinction between frontline horns and supporting rhythm section. “It’s a cliché in jazz, but also true that you never play the same song the same way twice,” Redman says. “With this band that’s true more so than with any other band I’ve worked with. You never know what’s going to happen. They’re such flexible, malleable musicians, open minded and empathetic, listening keenly and deeply. It allows for some magic to happen.”

The band released an eponymous debut album last year on Nonesuch that focused more on original pieces by Josh Redman and Colley than the repertoire of Old and New Dreams. Colley provided several gorgeous originals written specifically for the group, and he’s got more on the way. “I just think of the spirit and the lineage, and the songs just flow out,” he said.

Still Dreaming’s open-ended forms usher Redman into free jazz territory long associated with his father, a realm that Redman was long loathe to enter. He’s hardly the first jazz musician to wrestle with the legacy of an illustrious parent. But the Berkeley saxophone star’s sudden rise to prominence in the early 1990s and the abiding respect for Dewey led many jazz critics to use the elder Redman’s oeuvre as a measuring stick for his son. Understandably, ever since his 1993 national tour with Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden, who made classic recordings with Dewey, Joshua largely avoided situations directly connected to his father’s music. That’s one reason why Still Dreaming came freighted with intense expectations.

After so many years of treading carefully around his father’s music the quartet was “a major step, because it’s so explicit,” Redman said. “His influence has always been there. I learned so much listening to him. For so long everybody talked about how different we sounded. That always kind of bothered me.”

He isn’t interested in channeling his father’s thick, cutting tenor tone (Dewey also played a good deal of alto sax and occasional suona, a keening Chinese wooden oboe). Rather, to the extent that Still Dreaming references his father, Redman hopes it points people to often overlooked facets of Dewey’s music. “People had a conception of the kind of player he was, and I know that he was bothered by being pigeonholed as the free guy,” Redman said. “He could always play changes and bebop, super soulful and bluesy.”

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