Joshua Redman Trio to perform in LU chapel

Amelia Perron

Saturday at 8 p.m., the Lawrence Jazz Series is bringing yet another jazz sax great, Joshua Redman, to the Memorial Chapel stage.
Redman is a relatively young performer, according to Lawrence jazz saxophone professor Tom Washatka. He will be performing on tenor sax, supported only by percussion and bass.
“Without a piano, he isn’t going to be held hostage to a harmonic direction,” Washatka predicted. “It’s going to give him a lot of freedom.”
Washatka anticipates that the program will include a number of works by the artist himself. “I’d imagine he’ll be playing stuff from his latest CD,” said Washatka, “both his arrangements of standards and his own stuff.”
While Washatka still considers Redman a new voice, the performer “has studied history and pays homage to the jazz greats of the past century in many of his solos. But he’s also an innovator.”
Jazz piano professor Lee Tomboulian also commented on Redman’s connection with his musical past. “Like most people of his generation, he’s spent plenty of time with hip-hop and classic rock,” says Tomboulian. “It’s going to end up in his music, consciously or subconsciously.”
Some of Redman’s influences are considered quirky. “He plays ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton,” Tomboulian remarked. “I was skeptical, but you have to let the music speak for itself – it’s actually really affecting.”
Both Washatka and Tomboulian are effusive about Redman’s technique. “He has a very natural technique,” said Washatka, “so his playing is very technical.” Tomboulian added, “He’s very well respected. He’s got a great technical command, second to none.”
Redman has jazz sax in his family history – father Dewey Redman was a well-known saxophonist. He cast a shadow from under which the junior Redman had to escape.
“It’s like the Marsalises,” says Tomboulian. “The father has a really distinctive sound, and then the sons come along and have to take a more postmodern approach, with a lot more influences. Joshua has his own thing – smoother, eclectic.”
Before becoming a performer, Redman had graduated with a pre-law degree and was heading off to Harvard Law before taking a summer off to spend in New York.
“He was an excellent student all along,” explained Washatka, “but then he spent the summer hanging out, did a lot of jamming, and got into the creative thing. Around ’89 or ’90 he started drawing attention to his playing, and the rest is history.”
Redman will be offering a master class while at Lawrence, providing jazz students a rare opportunity to get an inside view of an artist’s work. Interested students should consult the Conservatory office for details.
“What we’re going to get,” said Tomboulian, “is a well-schooled, intelligent, far-reaching performer with confident technique and unique style.”
“He has a great sense of swing,” concluded Washatka. “A master improviser.