The Bad Plus feat. Joshua Redman
Twelve years ago the trio, The Bad Plus launched a modest new movement in jazz, with the pizzazz of a rock band and a keen eye. Their guest saxophonist, Joshua Redman, continues to create new projects and has an exceptional command of his instrument.
The American magazine Rolling Stone defined the amalgam of jazz, pop, rock and avant-garde which Bad Plus serves up as ‘about as badass as highbrow gets’. The New York Times said that this band is better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock. Few bands received such a welcome and inspired such controversy as The Bad Plus, which was created in 2000. And yet this trio’s work is founded on jazz and improvised music. Their compositions exude a free and adventurous approach to music. The label ‘avant-garde populism’ was simply added later.
Pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King specialised in deconstructing songs in the pop, rock and even country music idioms. Their contrary version of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ caused somewhat of an uproar. Subsequently they even reworked songs by Aphex Twin, Blondie, Tears for Fears, Radiohead, David Bowie and even Queen and Black Sabbath. For a while the band seemed to be heading down a dead end alley. But their most recent album, ‘Never Stop’ only featured original songs. The statement was quite clear: they alternate between gentle melodious compositions and violent, more abstract work. The highlight is ‘People Like You’, a delightful tender ballad with a rock beat. This band continues to be inventive, sounds tight-knit and fortunately also as if they might ruffle some feathers. In March 2011 they premiered their version of Stravinsky’s ‘Le Sacre Du Printemps’.
Joshua Redman is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman. He was exposed from an early age to a variety of music styles and instruments, taking up the clarinet and the tenor saxophone. He won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, and this marked the start of a prodigious career with successful recordings and tours with several leading jazz musicians. He recorded his debut, ‘Wish’ with such jazz masters as Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. In retrospect it is amazing that he never crumbled under all that pressure. He continued to focus on his music, continued to grow and launch new projects and always remained loyal to his friends, including Brad Mehldau, Peter Bernstein, Brian Blade, Christian McBride and many others. Redman became a successful band leader, and the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Jazz Organisation as well as creating the SF Jazz Collective.
In 2009 he founded a new, intriguing collaborative band called James Farm. His great example continues to be the saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Redman’s style is full yet always transparent. He is a smooth and sharp player on the tenor saxophone but equally convincing on the soprano saxophone.