Music Reviews

Joshua Redman

Where Are We

Joshua Redman Where Are We

Blue Note

Formats available: Download, CD, Vinyl

Where Are We is in many ways a journey across a modern American musical landscape. As befits everything American, this is a long’ish album it contains some familiar tunes that are interpreted and reimagined with a massive amount of talent and in a first for Joshua Redman, a human voice to counter and accompany his gentle saxophone.

From title and from the very first note, the album is filled with musical references, clues and tiny allusions to iconic American classics. Where in past years Redman’s sound was funky bop, here he reveals a very different side of himself. Looking at his photos one could be forgiven for assuming that Redman is far younger than his 54 years, his music in deference to his looks has matured and his style changed, but fear not, the mellow and melodious and very soulful performance is extraordinary.

While the album is led by the sound of Redman’s sax, it would not stand out without Gabrielle Cavassa, her style and voice are expressive, nonchalant and mostly mesmerising. There are shades of Carmen McRae and Peggy Lee and a hint of Stacy Kent in her style. I hope to hear more of her voice in the future. Completing the main quintet are Aaron Parks (piano), Joe Sanders (bass) and Brian Blade (drums). Appearing as guests in addition to them are: Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein (guitars), Nicholas Payton and Joel Ross (trumpets).

Joshua Redman Where Are We

Though lead by a tenor sax the album’s sound is intimate and gentle. The compositions covered were popularised between the ‘30s and the ‘70s including of Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia and Jimmy Webb’s By the time I get to Phoenix. Redman has also selected Chicago Blues (Basie/Rushing), My Heart in San Francisco (Monk), Stars Fell on Alabama (Perkins/Parish), as well as John Coltrane’s Alabama.  While it is certainly nostalgic it is absolutely schmaltz free.

This review is based on a 44.1/16-bits digital download which is a smooth, warm’ish and good recording that could have slightly more accurate bass, but nevertheless will please most audiophile ears. In its physical guise Where Are We is a double album on vinyl or CD. It is also available as a high-resolution download through the likes of Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal (24-bit/96kHz) as well as Blue Note’s own store.

The Redman Quintet has embarked on a world tour playing the music on this album and will appear at the Barbican in November.

Reuben Klein

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