Release Date: Jan 13, 2009
Record label: Nonesuch
Joshua Redman's 2007 album Back East rightfully drew critical comparisons to Sonny Rollins' legendary trio date Way Out West, given everything from the mirror image implication in the title to the manner in which Redman offered the material on the set. The presence of Rollins looms large over Compass as well. Once more, Redman explores a piano-less trio, though there are some quartet and quintet numbers here.
The year has begun with a rush of output from fine saxophonists with fine bands: Julian Siegel and soon Julian Arguelles in formidable partnerships, and the acclaimed American Joshua Redman with two overlapping rhythm sections. Redman's collaborators on this set are bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers, and drummers Brian Blade and Greg Hutchinson. Like Siegel, Redman mostly operates in a freewheeling, post-Ornette, somewhat Joe Lovano-like manner - and such a firmly improv-oriented album from a musician with a canny ear for the marketplace is another hint that the audience for no-frills, idiom-mixing acoustic improvised jazz may be growing.
Not only do ?tenor saxo?phonist Joshua Redman and President Obama share an alma mater, they actually spent the same years (1988?1991) on the Harvard campus. Compass, Redman’s 14th disc, suggests another similarity: Both have added a youthful spark to ?venerable institutions and gracefully leapfrogged their peers. Still, this album is less focused than its predecessor, Back East.
To the untrained ear, it might appear that Joshua Redman is in the midst of a mid-life musical crisis. Actually, it seems like that to the trained ear, too (if you count four tumultuous years of jazz bass lessons and one year spent torturing a helpless violin as training). On 2007’s Back East, Redman departed from his bread-and-butter neo-bop stylings, which he perfected to relatively huge critical and commercial success (for a jazz artist) over the course of ten albums.