CD review

Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider – “Sun on Sand”

Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider Sun on Sand
(Nonesuch 0075597946383. Review by Dick Hovenga(*))

Saxophonist Joshua Redman loves a challenge. Throughout his career he has been springing surprises by releasing albums that are well not what you’d expect. And Sun on Sand fits straight into that list of unexpected albums; and it’s a wonderful album too. This has been quite some year for Redman: the quartet album Come What May, released in the spring, was ridiculously good too.

Sun on Sand’s eight compositions were all written by Patrick Zimmerli and were first performed in 2014 at Wigmore Hall in London. The collaboration between Zimmerli and Redman in fact goes back to a year earlier than that, when Zimmerli wrote orchestral arrangements and some compositions for the Redman album Walking Shadows (2013). Zimmerli had also previously worked with Redman’s duo partner Brad Mehldau on the album Modern Music with Kevin Hays from 2011.

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider is a fascinating group to follow because its choice of partners is so totally unpredictable. In recent years the group has worked just as well with Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera (on the album Dreamers) as it did with fiddle player Martin Hayes (on The Butterfly).

The collaboration between Zimmerli, Redman and Brooklyn Rider is fascinating and consistently surprising. The eight compositions are very different from each other, and because Redman has put them together with a tight trio with the famous bass player Scott Colley and drummer Satoshi Takeisha, Brooklyn Rider’s strings sound even more exciting and also somehow looser.

Listen to album opener Flash and it’s easy to get sold on it right away. Redman combines coolness and virtuosity, Colley and Takeisha are unsurpassable and Brooklyn Rider are mightily impressive too. What we have is jazz combined with modern classical music to make something new and with infinite possibilities. The exceptionally beautiful Dark White, Starbust and Haloes and especially Soft Focus impress right from the start. These are masterful compositions and the playing is incomparably beautiful. And the compositions also worth discovering over and over again.

Zimmerli has the great gift of writing superb multi-layered compositions and these sound great in Brooklyn Rider’s hands. What Redman is able to do with the melodic lines in these deeply felt arrangements is always of the highest order. Through being audacious and inspired he doesn’t just impress, there is also a strong emotional side to what he does. And the way Colley and Takeisha dig in with real intent is impressive too.

Sun on Sand, released at just the right time of year, is a warm-sounding and fantastically rich album. An ideal mix of jazz and modern classical music that gets under the skin the whole way through. It’s album that once it’s been placed in the CD player just doesn’t get out again (or it stays put on the turntable). It marks a new high point in Redman’s bountiful discography.

(*) This is an English version by Sebastian of Dick Hovenga’s review in Dutch, published on the Written in Music website HERE

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