Freedom in the Groove

Joshua Redman

Warner Brothers, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on February 4, 1997]

I can't pretend for a second to know much about jazz—that would be something akin to pretending I could fly the space shuttle when I still have trouble programming my VCR. But stroll a bit with an untrained ear, if you will, because while I can't cite you chapter and verse on this album's musical antecedents (aside from obvious jazz deities like John Coltrane and Miles Davis), I can say that I enjoyed it a great deal and can attempt to explain why from my own limited frame of reference.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The appeal of instrumental music to me is the way it stimulates the imagination. I believe most people are natural storytellers to some extent. What instrumental music does for me personally is challenge my mind to, consciously or unconsciously, build some kind of story to go with the music. This "story" can be as simple as a series of shifting emotions, but if the music is good, it carries through all the normal narrative stages of introduction, exposition, climax and resolution.

Saxophonist/bandleader Joshua Redman has been identified by others more studied than I as a sort of neo-traditionalist; a young jazz artist who embraces the freedom and glorious improvisation of traditional jazz while skillfully incorporating rhythmic and melodic elements from sources ranging from hip-hop to classical. What comes out in the end is a dynamic palette of styles that challenges the ear with its diversity. The staccato rhythms and bleating tones of "Hide & Seek" give way easily to the smooth sophistication of "One Shining Soul"; the finger-snapping night-club jive of "Home Fries" seems utterly comfortable up against the sometimes hymn-like opus "Invocation."

There are many stories being told on Freedom in the Groove, many moods to absorb, many riffs to tickle the ear and soul. It's music to set your mind wandering, a gateway to other times and places and moments to remember.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.