Jazz music, news and views

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

RIP Dewey Redman

Saxophonist Dewey Redman passed away at 75 years old this past Saturday, September 2nd. An underrated innovator with a solid tenor tone and skill for weaving fresh, sinewy lines, Redman was a native of Fort Worth, TX, where he attended high school and played in the marching band with Ornette Coleman. The altoist would later recruit Redman for his band from the late '60s through the early '70s, forming one of the most formidable saxophone pairings of the era (apart from Coltrane's efforts with Eric Dolphy or Pharoah Sanders). Redman's work from the '70s includes a tenure Keith Jarrett's American quartet and Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. Even up to his passing, he was performing regularly and played his last concert only days before his death (in his band with Frank Kimbrough, John Menegon and Matt Wilson).

Plenty of saxophonists today use their immense technique to fiery, furious ends but also temper it with a centered sound. In this way, Redman broke the ice for them. He couldn't read music (at least as an early jazz musician), but, as Ben Ratliff aptly states in Redman's New York Times obituary, the results don't seem to be lacking the least; his sound was logical, personal, even warm, but it could also spontaneous and forceful. The first time I heard Redman, it was on the title track to Pat Metheny's 80/81. I first thought I was hearing Michael Brecker (who also plays on the album), but it was actually Redman. He was underappreciated, even by me, regrettably. Since hearing that Metheny recording, though, I've heard a few others that I recommend below.

N.Y. Times
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Darcy James Argue
Do the Math
Jazz Police

Dewey Redman: Musics; African Venus
Ornette Coleman: New York Is Now
Keith Jarrett: Silence; Death and the Flower
Pat Metheny: 80/81


  • At 9/06/2006 1:10 PM, Blogger etnobofin said…

    I think the best thing that could be said about Dewey Redman is that he only ever sounded like Dewey Redman... maybe the first couple of phrases of a solo might occasionally burn with a Trane-ish glow (hence perhaps your Brecker confusion on the Metheny album), but then the next moment he would duck down a melodic alley only known to him. Everything about his playing seemed so instinctive and un-mannered. No wonder so many musicians dug him.

    A true original, and as all the bloggers are saying this week, he never quite got the credit in his lifetime that he deserved.

  • At 9/06/2006 9:01 PM, Blogger Kellen said…

    "...he would duck down a melodic alley only known to him. Everything about his playing seemed so instinctive and un-mannered."

    Couldn't have worded it any better myself!


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