Joshua Redman comes back to the future.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
That jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman has been selected as artist-in-residence for the Next Generation Jazz Festival – which mentors the best high school jazz musicians in the country – is the latest milestone in the 42-year-old’s musical journey. The first one can probably be counted at his birth.
He was born to Renee Shedroff, a Jewish contemporary dancer, and Dewey Redman, a legendary African-American saxophone player. Although he grew up in a rich culture brew swirling with jazz, rock, classical, Middle Eastern, Indian and African music – and played saxophone so well as a youngster that he made the prestigious Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble – Redman, after graduating Harvard summa cum laude, planned to attend Yale Law School.
Luckily for lovers of jazz and saxophone, he took a year off and moved into a house in Brooklyn with friends from the Berklee College of Music (to help defray the cost of rent), and gigged with top flight jazz peers like Roy Hargrove, Leon Parker and Geoff Keezer. In November 1992 he won the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, which lead to tours and recording sessions with masters of the game, like Clark Terry, Charlie Haden, Elvin Jones and Pat Metheny.
He inked a deal with Warner Bros. Records, added a Grammy nomination on his first album, and the milestones – superlative collaborations, gigs, albums, another Grammy nomination, awards – just kept coming, coaxed along by a playing style, on both tenor and soprano sax, that is dexterously whip-smart, jazz-history savvy and musically melodic.
Yale Law School, who?
This weekend Redman and other jazz maestros lead an avalanche of the country’s best young jazz up-and-comers through clinics, workshops and free performances. The best of this massive harvest of talent will get to perform at this year’s Monterey Jazz Festival, a milestone for the kids that Redman himself touched in 1985. He was then part of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, which won the spot during that year’s Next Generation Jazz Festival.