Joshua Redman was exposed at an early age to a variety of musics (jazz, classical, rock, soul, Indian, Indonesian, Middle-Eastern, African) and instruments (recorder, piano, guitar, gatham, gamelan), and began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, one year later.
In 1991 Redman graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Social Studies. He moved to Brooklyn, and almost immediately he found himself immersed in the New York jazz scene. He began jamming and gigging regularly with some of the leading jazz musicians of his generation: Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Kevin Hays, Roy Hargrove, Geoff Keezer, Leon Parker, Jorge Rossy and Mark Turner (to name just a few). In November of that year, five months after moving to New York, Redman was named the winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. This was only one of the more visible highlights from a year that saw Redman beginning to tour and record with jazz masters such as his father, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, and Clark Terry.
Now fully committed to a life in music, Redman was quickly signed by Warner Bros. Records and issued his first, self-titled album in the spring of 1993, which subsequently earned Redman his first Grammy nomination. That fall saw the release of Wish, where Joshua was joined by the all-star cast of Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. He toured extensively with Metheny throughout the latter half of that year. His next recording, MoodSwing, was released in 1994, and it introduced his first permanent band, which included three other young musicians who have gone on to become some of the most important and influential artists in modern jazz: pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. A later edition of this ensemble included guitarist Peter Bernstein, pianist Peter Martin, bassist Chris Thomas and Brian Blade.
Over a series of celebrated recordings including Spirit of the Moment/Live at the Village Vanguard, Freedom in the Groove and Timeless Tales (for Changing Times), Redman established himself as one of the music’s most consistent and successful bandleaders, and added soprano and alto saxophones to his instrumental arsenal. Joshua’s second acclaimed quartet, was formed in 1998 and made its recorded debut on the 2000 album Beyond. The dynamic interplay and uncommon rapport of this group inspired Redman to write and record his first long-form composition, Passage of Time, which was released in 2001.
A year later, Redman began to channel his jazz sensibilities through new instrumentation and formed The Elastic Band, a flexible, electrified, groove-based trio. The band debuted on the 2002 releases yaya3 and Elastic. Drummer Jeff Ballard began to play regularly with the Elastic Band later that year, and he (along with Blade and Yahel) played a central role in their next recording, the Grammy-nominated Momentum, which was released in 2005 to inaugurate Redman’s affiliation with Nonesuch Records, and featured a diverse and exciting lineup of special guests.
The following month, Nonesuch released Redman’s first ever piano-less trio record, Back East, featuring Joshua alongside three stellar bass and drum rhythm sections (Larry Grenadier & Ali Jackson, Christian McBride & Brian Blade, Reuben Rogers & Eric Harland) and three very special guest saxophonists (Chris Cheek, Joe Lovano and Dewey Redman). On Compass, released in January 2009 (Nonesuch), Joshua continues to explore the expansive trio format.
Starting in late 2009, Joshua began performing with a new collaborative band called James Farm featuring pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The band infuses traditional acoustic jazz quartet instrumentation with a progressive attitude and modern sound. The band’s performances and two albums have been met with rave reviews across the globe.
In May 2013, Redman released Walking Shadows (Nonesuch), a collection of vintage and contemporary ballads produced by his friend and frequent collaborator Brad Mehldau. This is Redman’s first recording to include an orchestral ensemble. About Walking Shadows, the New York Times says "there hasn’t been a more sublimely lyrical gesture in his 20-year recording career."
Released in June 2014, Trios Live (Nonesuch), was recorded at New York City’s Jazz Standard and Washington, DC’s Blues Alley during stands with two different trios - Redman and drummer Gregory Hutchinson with bassist Matt Penman (Jazz Standard) and Redman and Hutchinson with bassist Reuben Rogers (Blues Alley).
After their first partnership during 2011 performances at the Blue Note in New York at the invitation of The Bad Plus, and intermittent performances together over the years, Redman and the tight-knit trio released their first studio album titled The Bad Plus Joshua Redman in May 2015 on Nonesuch. Redman was nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo on the track Friend or Foe from this debut recording collaboration.
Released in 2016, Nearness (Nonesuch), was recorded at several European concert stops and illustrates in the most direct and intimate way the extraordinary musical rapport between saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau—label-mates, friends, and fellow travelers in jazz for 25 years. After joining Mehldau as a featured soloist on Highway Rider, the two musicians resumed performing as a duo at concert halls and festivals around the world, garnering superb reviews every time out.
Still Dreaming, released in May 2018 on Nonesuch, features drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley, and trumpeter Ron Miles.
Joshua Redman Quartet’s new album, Come What May (Nonesuch), was released on March 29, 2019. It marks the first recording in almost two decades for this group of musicians: the recently Grammy-nominated saxophonist and his longtime friends and colleagues pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Previous releases were Beyond (2000) and Passage of Time (2001). The Quartet, which has toured internationally over the last several years, recorded seven Redman tunes for Come What May.
Photo credits: Jay Blakesberg - Lisa Siciliano