Joshua Redman Quartet (Show Review)
Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
Monday, June 24th, 2019
The Broadway Theatre

Review by Nikki Phipps, Host of RCMP  (Thursday, 4-5pm)
Photos courtesy of Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival

They shuffled their instruments and microphones for a while on stage, deceivingly causal, utterly unaffected, and then came out with a blast that would keep the audience salivating for the entire performance reminding everyone in the Broadway Theatre that The Joshua Redman Quartet is not to be taken for granted. But their performance was more than just about music.

Joshua Redman and his musicians are a polished, professional jazz quartet who have been in this game for decades, and yet their sound during their performance at the Broadway Theatre last Monday night was fresh, bright and delivered the coolness you’d expect from a modern New York jazz sound. There were a couple of obvious influences in the performance, Aaron Goldberg’s teetering on Thelonious Monk style vamp at times, and Redman himself using a few tongued breaths on the reed or a low tenor honk as a nod to Stan Getz, but overall the group stuck with their own sound with very few quotes, (I was secretly hoping for a Salt Peanuts, like, anywhere at all in the performance because I like a good joke), keeping it fairly straight. I would say this performance was a perfect gateway for anyone new to jazz or if your family was trying to influence your musical taste, a la David Sedaris, (there were quite a few pre-teens and young adults in the audience), but that’s not to say it was safe, just accessible.

There is no question that the new album Redman is touring on, Come What May, is great. The performance was also great. The ambiance and venue were great. Great, great, great, then, and end of article…not quite. The question I pondered was what made the experience so special? What gripped the audience beyond the music itself? We all like something that is good, but why would I recommend seeing this quartet live? It turns out the secret ingredient to the Redman experience was the display of humility and the courtesy the band showed the audience. Redman’s banter and interaction were like talking with an old friend. He had a candor and a warm tone that made what he was saying about the music or how the festival was going interesting and inviting with no pretention whatsoever, (the amount of “thank yous” he gave the audience and his musicians should make him an honorary Canadian). The interaction within the group was also intimate, sharing a smile here and there between them, glances and nods between the bass player and drummer, and then Redman himself entering and exiting the center stage with grace. The ease of the ambiance was ripe for the audience to also relax and remove any pretense, allowing them to hoot or woot at leisure, claps abounding with real appreciation.

The playing and musicianship were obviously exceptional. Joshua Redman, Aaron Goldberg, Gregory Hutchinson, and Reuben Rogers are exceptional masters of their craft who are worth seeing solo or together in any combination. They essentially broke the 4th wall, included the room and made this performance so accessible and enjoyable that it allowed the audience a piece of it all.