A Few Moments with Joshua Redman at Newport 2005

A Few Moments with Joshua Redman
at Newport Jazz 2005
by Matthew S. Robinson

After his forward-thinking and crowd-pleasing opening set at the 2005 Newport Jazz Festival, sax man Joshua Redman sat down with the press to field some questions about his new and old sounds, his move to the left coast, and how he felt about reurning to the legendary Newport stage.

With charts in one hand for the upcoming tribute to octogenarian Roy Haynes and his trucker-style ballcap in the other, Redman strolled into the artist catering area and casually took a seat at a round table of awaiting inquisitors, some of whom had been following the 36-year-old¹s career since his early days at Harvard. With his gently piercing eyes and warm, easy smile, Redman made everyone feel comfortable right away, and the questions soon began to fly.

“I just learned I was playing with Roy,” Redman laughed, quickly gazing one last time at the charts before putting them down to pay attention to the group.

And how do you feel about that, Joshua?

“I love playing here,” Redman said, noting that he wished Newport offered some after hours performance opportunities.

“I have been fortunate to play with my heroes and this is a great place to play! This is my fourth time and it is always a good, relaxed atmosphere. Especially as I now live in California, it is good to catch up with the New York Jazz community!”

While in California, Redman has been busy recording for Nonesuch and serving as artistic director for the San Francisco Jazz Collaborative, a rotating collection of composers who gather in workshops to perform and share music. “It¹s always changing,” he said, recalling such past collaborators as Brian Blade, Renee Rosnes, and many others, “and that keeps it interesting.”

Not one to settle on any one kind of music, Redman is also playing simultaneously with traditional and more technologically-advanced groups, including his own Elastic Band (with whom he appeared this go-round at Newport).

“Elastic is not swing based,” he explained. “It is more funk and rock based.

There are different instruments and a completely different repertoire.”

Even so, Redman admitted, the musical approach is the same no matter who he is playing with.

“I try to take the same approach of being spontaneous and interactive,” he explained. “Those are the core values for me.”

As a result, when he composes, Redman does not always know which band will end up playing which pieces.

“I usually do not plan it,” he said. “An idea comes, and hopefully I can write it down. Sometimes, I compose for a particular group, but when I started Elastic band, I had compositions written without a band to play them, so the sound evolved as the band took ownership.”

So is there any one guiding principle that drives your creative process, Joshua?

“I try to trust the process,” he replied. “Whatever feels musically right!”

c. 2005, M. S. Robinson, ARR