As befitting a practitioner of state-of-the-art jazz, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman has released two discs reflecting both sides of the contempo coin; the Elastic Band plays listener-friendly, if occasionally tedious, funk-jazz while the SF Collective plays in a more traditional and also occasionally tedious if slightly left-of-center mainstream style. The Elastic Band has a lot of snap and Redman is too smart a player to just coast over the tight rhythms with borrowed blues licks, plus theres the occasional stab at some outre textures (as on the cover of Ornette Colemans Lonely Woman); but overall this sounds like a bid for radio play. Which isnt cynical on Redmans part, just professional.
Meanwhile the collective, an octet with Redman as artistic director, mixes four originals with three Coleman covers in a live performance before an enthusiastic audience and while theres a few you-had-to-be-there moves, theres a lot more electricity in this acoustic group than in the plugged-in Elastic band. And occasionally, like when trumpeter Nicholas Payton takes an aggressive and ruminative solo on O.C.s When Will The Blues Leave, things get seriously excellent.
Richard C. Walls writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].