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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Joshua Redman

Compass (Nonesuch)

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Expounding on 2007's Grammy-nominated Back East and his growing jambase.com-friendly following, saxophonist Joshua Redman seemingly has new directions on his mind for Compass. Tracks such as "Uncharted," "Faraway," "March" and "Through the Valley" might hint at progression, but it's basically a lot more of his "shoot the piano player" experimentation.

Only two basses and drums join Redman's alto and tenor wailing, allowing much more empty space throughout. Enhancing tension on the fast and aura on the slow, the bare-bones instrumentation offers a fresh take on the likes of the Sonny Rollins or Dexter Gordon small combo projects of the mid-'60s.

And like those cats who could fuse swing with the jagged sound of the day, Redman imbues his bop with a modern smoothness. In turns spooky ("Ghost") and downright possessed (cutting loose much more than his usual disciplined self), it's that mournful tone on the ballads-light, fluid, breathless-that renders him not really of any musical time but his own.