Melbourne International Jazz Festival — Day 5

Joshua Redman Trio

Josh Redman Trio

A nasty cold and sore throat had me laid low all day, so I chose to miss the Zac Hurren Trio and arrive at the Melbourne Recital Centre in time for Redman on saxophones, Reuben Rogers on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums.

A number of words come to mind immediately as fitting descriptions for this trio: slick, polished, precise, elegant, athletic, smooth and exacting. Redman said it had been almost 10 years since he’d been in Melbourne and “I forgot how hip y’all are”.  Yeah, man. That was after the trio had played The Surrey with the Fringe On Top and East of the Sun (West of the Moon), so pretty soon he had to take his tongue out of his cheek to play the sublimely haunting Ghost, from the Compass album said to be heavily influenced by Sonny Rollins. I silently defied anyone — jazz fan or not — to remain unmoved. Redman seemed enmeshed in the power of the song.

Identity Thief was edgy and exciting, making me long for a smaller venue where the audience could get up close. Thelonius Monk’s Trinkle Tinkle had Redman sitting out during a bass and drums interlude, contributing an occasional seemingly casual, but perfectly timed note on the side. There was plenty of substance, but definite icing-on-the-cake style here that Redman had exhibited throughout with his frequent knee-up “parp” punctuating bursts of play.

Josh Redman Trio

On soprano sax for Zarafah, another from his Back East album and dedicated to his mother, Redman played with great expression and dignity — the sound was as I’d imagined the nightingale of Keats’s ode to have sung, “… pouring forth thy soul abroad in such an ecstasy”. (Yes, I was getting carried away, deciding then that I had to buy that album.)

Somehow Redman draws the attention in this trio, but on the night the skills of Rogers and Hutchinson did not go unnoticed. In Insomnomaniac, Rogers’s solo was a cracker and there was so much energy pouring from the trio that it seemed no wonder sleep was impossible … anywhere. Before an encore I think might have been Moonlight — a slower piece that reworks Beethoven’s sonata — Redman promised to return in eight and a half years, presumably because us cats are so cool here in Melbourne, man.

Can a man, or a trio, be any more hip?

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