“It’s not us playing the music of Ornette Coleman, I want to be very clear on that,” says saxophonist Joshua Redman of his upcoming gigs for Jazz at Lincoln Center. “Old and New Dreams is kind of our point of departure as a band. They’re obviously closely related, but I don’t want people to come thinking that this is the music of Ornette Coleman. That’s not what this project is.”
Redman and his Still Dreaming quartet bring excitement and spontaneity to The Appel Room on March 31 and April 1. They’ll be playing music inspired by the Old and New Dreams quartet of the 1970s and ‘80s, as well as original compositions. Saxophonist Redman returns to Jazz at Lincoln Center and this time brings with him the all-star Still Dreaming group consisting of Ron Miles (trumpet), Scott Colley (bass), and Brian Blade (drums).
Born in Berkeley, California to jazz great Dewey Redman and dancer/librarian Renee Shedroff, Redman began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to saxophone. A graduate of Harvard University (and accepted to Yale Law), he moved to Brooklyn instead to follow his love of jazz, playing with folks like Brad Mehldau, Roy Hargrove, Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, and Billy Higgins. Redman won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1991. He’s played with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Elvin Jones and was artistic director of the SFJAZZ Collective.
In this exclusive interview, Redman explains, “The organization or principle of the Still Dreaming band is kind of a point of departure from some of Ornette’s most important collaborators and musicians with whom he created some of his most powerful and influential work. The band Old and New Dreams was in one sense a celebration of Ornette. This band is kind of a tribute band of a tribute band. My father [Dewey Redman] was a member of that band. I saw them several times live when they came to the Bay area. Their music was very important to me as I was growing up there. ... We thought it would be a thrill to play some of their music as an inspiration and spirit for us to create some of our own music; to do something that feels good and makes some sort of impact.”
Redman says that this new band has played together only a few times. “It is a new project. We’ve only done about ten gigs together,” says Redman. But never fear. ”It’s one of those bands that the chemistry was immediate and we just clicked musically from the first time we made music together, it just felt so natural and open—free in the best sense of the word. It’s something that I hope will be an ongoing project.
“The Old and New Dreams quartet was a cutting-edge, very open and free-spirited band. They played a lot of music from a formal standpoint, harmonic standpoint, and a melodic standpoint that was very free. But there’s also an inherent lyricism that runs through all of their music...a very folk-like element. I think that that band found a very powerful way of taking the freedom and abstraction of the avant-garde, but channeling it in a way that was rooted and very visceral and folk-like.”
From 1976–1981 Old and New Dreams was a band that made about three or four records. Of this new undertaking, Redman says, “The music is definitely intense and it’s challenging and it’s very open and free in a lot of ways, so it’s not easy listening music. At its best, there’s a real freedom of spirit and open, spontaneous energy.”
Redman has played several times at Jazz at Lincoln Center, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a John Coltrane project and more recently appearing with Brad Mehldau. “I’ve had great experiences playing at Jazz at Lincoln Center and I’m excited to be playing there again and with this band. It’s a very unique band but a band of very old souls. There’s a kind of relaxation and comfort with this band, so it’s going to be an adventure.”
Scott H. Thompson is an internationally published writer and jazz publicist.
For more information and the full schedule, visit jazz.org or call CenterCharge at 212-721-6500 for tickets. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office is located on Broadway at 60th Street, Ground Floor. Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10am–6pm; Sunday, 12pm–6pm. For groups of 15 or more: 212-258-9875 or jazz.org/groups.