Joshua Redman

Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged since the 1990s. Born in Berkeley, California, he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. He was exposed at an early age to a variety of music genres (jazz, classical, rock, soul, Indian, Indonesian, Middle Eastern, African) and instruments (recorder, piano, guitar, gatham, gamelan) and began playing clarinet at age 9 before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, one year later.

The early influences of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and his father, Dewey Redman, as well as the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Prince, the Police, Led Zeppelin and Earth, Wind & Fire drew him more deeply into music. Although he loved playing the saxophone and was a dedicated member of the award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and Combo from 1983 to 1986, academics were always his first priority, and he never seriously considered becoming a professional musician.

In 1991, Redman graduated from Harvard, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a bachelor's degree in social studies. He had been accepted by Yale Law School, but deferred entrance for what he believed was going to be one year. Some of his friends (former students at the Berklee College of Music) had recently relocated to Brooklyn, and they were looking for another housemate to help with the rent. Redman accepted their invitation to move in; almost immediately he found himself immersed in the New York jazz scene. He began jamming and gigging regularly with some of the leading jazz musicians of his generation: Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Kevin Hays, Roy Hargrove, Geoff Keezer, Leon Parker, Jorge Rossy and Mark Turner (to name just a few). In November of that year, five months after moving to New York, Redman won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition.

This was only one of the more visible highlights from a year that saw Redman beginning to tour and record with jazz masters such as his father, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian and Clark Terry. For Redman, this was a period of tremendous growth, invaluable experience and endless inspiration.

Now fully committed to a life in music, Redman was quickly signed by Warner Bros. Records and issued his first, self-titled album in spring 1993, which subsequently earned Redman his first Grammy nomination. That fall saw the release of "Wish," where Joshua was joined by the all-star cast of Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. He toured extensively with Metheny throughout the latter half of that year. His next recording, "MoodSwing," was released in 1994, and it introduced his first permanent band, which included three other young musicians who have gone on to become some of the most important and influential artists in modern jazz: pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. A later edition of this ensemble included guitarist Peter Bernstein, pianist Peter Martin, bassist Chris Thomas and Blade.

Over a series of celebrated recordings, including "Spirit of the Moment/Live at the Village Vanguard," "Freedom in the Groove and Timeless Tales (for Changing Times)," Redman established himself as one of the music’s most consistent and successful bandleaders, and added soprano and alto saxophones to his instrumental arsenal. His second acclaimed quartet, featuring pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, was formed in 1998 and made its recorded debut on the 2000 album "Beyond." The dynamic interplay and uncommon rapport of this group inspired Redman to write and record his first long-form composition, "Passage of Time," which was released in 2001.

A year later, Redman began to channel his jazz sensibilities through new instrumentation and formed the Elastic Band, a flexible, electrified, groove-based trio built on an ongoing collaboration with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade. The band debuted on the 2002 releases "yaya3" and "Elastic." Drummer Jeff Ballard began to play regularly with the Elastic Band later that year, and he (along with Blade and Yahel) played a central role in their next recording, the Grammy-nominated "Momentum," released in 2005 to inaugurate Redman’s affiliation with Nonesuch Records, and featured a diverse lineup of special guests.

In 2000, Redman was named artistic director for the spring season of the nonprofit jazz presenter SFJAZZ. Redman and SFJAZZ Executive Director Randall Kline had an idea that the New York Times called a “eureka moment”; the creation of the SFJAZZ Collective, an ensemble distinguished both by the creativity of its members and a primary emphasis on composition. Inaugurated in 2004, the eight-piece band consists of a multi-generational cast of accomplished musicians. The Collective’s repertoire features commissioned works and new arrangements of the work of great modern jazz composers. In March 2007, Redman announced he was taking a hiatus from the SFJAZZ artistic directorship and the SFJAZZ Collective to focus on new projects.

The following month, Nonesuch released Redman’s first-ever piano-less trio record, "Back East," featuring him alongside three stellar bass and drum rhythm sections (Larry Grenadier & Ali Jackson, Christian McBride & Brian Blade, Reuben Rogers & Eric Harland) and three special guest saxophonists (Chris Cheek, Joe Lovano and Dewey Redman). On "Compass," released in 2009 on Nonesuch, Redman continues to explore the expansive trio format. With a group of collaborators as intrepid as he is — bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers, and drummers Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson — Redman stretches the shape of the trio approach; on the most audacious of these tunes, he performs with the entire lineup in a double-trio setting.

In late 2009, Redman began performing with a new collaborative band called James Farm with pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. The band infuses traditional acoustic jazz quartet instrumentation with a progressive attitude and modern sound. The band’s concerts and two albums received rave reviews across the globe.

In May 2013, Redman released "Walking Shadows" (Nonesuch), a collection of vintage and contemporary ballads produced by his friend and frequent collaborator Brad Mehldau. This is Redman’s first recording to include an orchestral ensemble and includes a core ensemble of Mehldau on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Brian Blade on drums. About "Walking Shadows," the New York Times says, "There hasn’t been a more sublimely lyrical gesture in his 20-year recording career."

Released in 2014, "Trios Live" (Nonesuch) was recorded at New York City’s Jazz Standard and Washington, D.C.’s Blues Alley during stands with two different trios: Redman and drummer Gregory Hutchinson with bassist Matt Penman (Jazz Standard) and Redman and Hutchinson with bassist Reuben Rogers (Blues Alley). "Trios Live" features four original tunes by Redman and interpretations of three additional songs.

After their first partnership during 2011 performances at the Blue Note in New York at the invitation of the Bad Plus, and intermittent performances together over the years, Redman and this trio released their first studio album titled "The Bad Plus Joshua Redman" in 2015 on Nonesuch. Redman explains the draw of this unique collaboration: "Playing with the Bad Plus has allowed me to explore a part of my playing, and my musical heritage, that I’ve never before accessed in quite the same way with any other group. The adventure with the Bad Plus pushes me toward the fringes and draws me into the core." Redman was nominated for best improvised jazz solo on the track “Friend or Foe” from this collaboration.

Released in 2016, "Nearness" (Nonesuch) was recorded at several European concert stops and illustrates in the most direct and intimate way the extraordinary musical rapport between saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau — label-mates, friends and fellow travelers in jazz for 25 years. After joining Mehldau as a featured soloist on "Highway Rider," the two musicians resumed performing as a duo at concert halls and festivals around the world, garnering superb reviews every time out. The tracks on "Nearness" were culled from recordings made during summer and fall 2011 European dates in concert halls, theaters and, one night in Norway at a church.

"Still Dreaming," released in May 2018 on Nonesuch, features drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley and trumpeter Ron Miles. Touring together since 2016, the quartet seeks to affirm, in its own way, the musical exploration and experimentation that defined one of the seminal jazz bands of the '70s and ’80s, "Old and New Dreams," which featured his father Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone. 

Joshua Redman Quartet’s "Come What May" (Nonesuch) was released in March 2019. It marks the first recording in almost two decades for this group of musicians: the Grammy-nominated saxophonist and his longtime friends and colleagues pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Previous releases were  "Beyond" (2000) and "Passage of Time "(2001). The quartet, which has toured internationally over the last several years, recorded seven Redman tunes for "Come What May."

The year 2020 saw Redman reunite with his original quartet (Redman, saxophone; Brad Mehldau, piano; Christian McBride, bass, and Brian Blade, drums) with the July release of "RoundAgain" (Nonesuch). "RoundAgain," the group’s first recording since "MoodSwing" (1994), features seven newly composed songs: three from Redman, two from Mehldau, and one each from McBride and Blade.

Redman has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards and has garnered top honors in critics' and readers' polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He wrote and performed the music for Louis Malle’s final film "Vanya on 42nd Street" and is both seen and heard in the Robert Altman film "Kansas City."