25 January 2009

Dewey Redman - The Struggle Continues

In solidarity, and hoping that sotise will return, after all he invited me to join this blog, here's my contribution for today:

The Struggle Continues
Dewey Redman | ECM Records (2007)

By Budd Kopman

Dewey Redman, who died September 2, 2006 at the age of 75, will be best remembered for his work with Ornette Coleman from 1967-1974 and Keith Jarrett's "American" quartet in the mid-1970s, with an overall reputation leaning towards the freer side of jazz expression.

The Struggle Continues, recorded in 1982, is making its first appearance on CD and is quite welcome. The overall style is on the straight-ahead side, but rather than merely play changes using the well-known language of bop, hard bop and post bop, chances are taken — the mark of the creative artist. For Redman, there is no need to play outside of the boundaries of the music at hand. Indeed, his playing on one of his last recordings, alto saxophonist Francois Carrier's freely improvised Open Spaces (Spool, 2006), is exactly what is needed, but at the other end of the spectrum.

Redman's supporting band is very sharp, featuring bassist Mark Helias, who plays aggressively with a full, deep sound, while maintaining a strong connection to drummer Ed Blackwell and pianist Charles Eubanks. They sound like a band and not merely a collection of good players brought together for a recording session.

Redman wrote all the compositions except the last, "Dewey Square," which is by Charlie Parker, and each shows a different side of his personality within the more structured confines of the mainstream. However, because Redman is such an original artist, The Struggle Continues is anything but a pure straight-ahead session as every note becomes personalized and hence recognizable as coming from him.

"Thren" starts out clearly enough with its bebop-ish theme. However, over the straight drumming and walking bass, Redman plays with rhythmic freedom, while never losing touch with Helias and Blackman. Eubank's answering solo takes up the challenge and things get hot. Once it gets going, "Love Is" initially sounds like a straightforward jazz ballad, except that the meter refuses to be in 3 or in 4, making for a lovely effect underneath Redman's expressive playing.

"Turn Over Baby" is a real low-down, slinky, deep bluesy piece that makes you realize that Redman can do that convincingly too, but this and "Joie De Vivre," a delightful light swinger, act as an aural cleanser for "Combinations." Here, the free Redman surfaces, as he and the band play an intense, harmonically static, racing track that is just long enough to show that Redman can do this too, without losing the album's balance.

The set ends with "Dewey Square," and Redman is again himself, playing rhythmically free lines against the Parker changes. The Struggle Continues presents an artist who is a true original, putting his stamp on every note played. Redman and the band are clearly having fun, playing accessible music of the highest quality.

Track listing: Thren; Love Is; Turn Over Baby; Joie de Vivre; Combination; Dewey Square.

Personnel: Dewey Redman; tenor saxophone; Charles Eubanks: piano; Mark Helias: bass; Ed Blackwell: drums.


gsrbrts2 said...


http://rapidshare.com/files/189019723/dwyrdmn_strggls.z01 http://rapidshare.com/files/189019676/dwyrdmn_strggls.z02

Anonymous said...
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gsrbrts2 said...



serviceton said...

But this is in print gsrbrts2 !
In the last 2 1/2 weeks, suddenly, inconstant sol features in-print recordings ? ! ?
je pars...

david said...

Thanks for this Redman post. I'm one of the many "hit and run" fans of Inconstant Sol that have been the topic of conversation lately and am starting to comment now with the promise of more active involvement.

I'm new to jazz and this blog has provided me with a remarkable education. I first started listening to "free jazz" a few years ago, initially attracted by Ornette Coleman's early recordings.

I mention that in the hopes of sparking conversation, and furthering my own education. I've noticed Ornette's name popping up from time to time in posts, this one being the most recent. Unlike this post, however, most of the references have carried a dismissive tone (see the Joe Harriott post from a few weeks ago, which was fantastic, by the way. Thank you for that. I was previously uninitiated and my eyes are still watering, as one commenter said they would).

So, as a newbie, my question is this: Why is Ornette Coleman, if not disliked, less respected in the contemporary free scene? What's the critique? In the Harriott post Rab Hines mentioned a few specifics--certainly more than most--by saying that Ornette's recordings "tended to remain anchored to a bebop-derived pulse."

To be honest, though, Harriott's music seemed to my untrained ear more anchored to traditionally bebop-derived pulses than Ornette's. So I'm wondering what I'm missing in the music. Can anyone explain the move away from the beginnings of free jazz into different territories?

Again, I'm rather new at all this and am genuinely curious. I certainly don't mean to be contentious about how to interpret Ornette Coleman historically. I'm just wondering what's at stake in the discussion. I hope this leads to productive conversation here. This has been probably the most educational blog I've read since getting into blogs early last year, and I'd really like to see it continue. Perhaps in a more interactive way, even.


Wallofsound said...

Thanks, gsrbrts2. A well chosen post!!!

At IS we haven't only posted out of print material, although that's what guides my own posts.

David, thanks for getting involved in the conversation. I think Ornette Coleman gets enormous respect, but possibly for his past achievements. I'd certainly count myself as one of those who includes Coleman's ground-breaking Atlantic recordings as some of my all-time favorites. They did not get such a welcome at the time, of course, and Coleman became the focus for some of the greatest vitriol at the time targeted at musicians who were seeking a freerer style.

I'd have to say, though, that I find Coleman's recordings very uneven. He seems most interested in experiment, and is often viewed as rejecting cornerstones of jazz. Miles Davis was particularly incensed when Coleman started playing trumpet (and violin). Since Coleman had often been accused of lacking skill as a sax player, when he purposely played instruments he was clearly not that skilled at playing many in the jazz establishment were enraged. He carried on in the same vein for most of his career: he added his son to his band on drums when Coleman jnr was just a teenager; and developed musical theories to guide his playing that make little sense to the rest of us.

Perhaps the problem that even free jazz fans have with Coleman is that he seems little interested in virtuosity, a quality held in high regard by most jazz fans.

I don't know whether others would agree with my next comment, but I also think he seemed to have broken through many barriers in music, but not influenced many players. I sense, though, amongst young British players a reawakening of interest in Coleman's past music that isn't focused on his virtuosity, tone, or reputation, but on modes of playing and thinking about jazz.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Redman though I can't remember where. This is what I like about IS - its an education.

I'm not a great fan of the really out there stuff that sounds to my ears like random noises, screeches etc, but I like the out there stuff from Coltrane and Dolphy.

I don't know where this DR will fit into the picture, but even if its not to my taste its something new to hear and learn about, always with cross references to other jazzers in the band etc. and what they do.

Yay Inconstant Sol!

Anonymous said...
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Bombshelter Slim said...

I won't download this as I already own the vinyl (and a dubbed CD copy), but I will comment: any and all Dewey Redman is worth investigation. There's something about the relationship between Texas and the tenor saxophone (in any musical "genre") that really resonates. Great post!!

Anonymous said...

I have this record too and (sorry for the 'negativity' about to follow), but I've always hated it when the leader (usually the lead horn) is mixed and/or recorded so much louder than the rhythm section that is accompanying--in 'modern times' it seems this 'practice' could be somewhat mitigated--but it still happened frequently. Along with this record by D. Redman, albums by David Murray and Arthur Blythe seem to be main culprits in this. I mean really, Edward Blackwell sounds like he is playing in a different room! Maybe it's an ego thing (definitely the case with Murray) or maybe just bad engineering, but being a drummer, it always pissed me off that such a great talent like Blackwell can barely be heard above the 'screeching' of D. Redman.

kike hurtado said...

Thank to gsrbts2 for sharing this on Dewey Redman.

Great posting, it's hard to find this one!

best, Kike.

ps: I think we must always respect all the people who want to share the best free improvised music. Be respectful and grateful! Peace and Love.

mrG said...

re: Ornette vs The New Free ... I'm not the great connoisseur that you might find in a really technical musicologist like Ethan Iverson (who has written extensively on Ornette's method and has Ornette's blessing for his own version of it) but it just seems to me there is a lot of decoder-ring information in some of Ornette's remarks to the media.

One that I especially love is "Just because someone can't read doesn't mean they don't have something important to say" -- there is a quality to Ornette and especially to Don Cherry that is open and inclusive. He doesn't shun virtuosity, but he doesn't require it either, it is unimportant compared to the human dimensions of the sound.

I find an element in some of the newer players that verges on an elitism, an in-crowd for Them who have the nous initiates, whether that is Triadic Chromatic or Braxton's dimensions or The New Complexity or whatever the hip trick du jour might be, and this can lose sight of why we play this music in the first place. Sure TCA is an approach, a tool but I fear too many bands never stop to ask what it is the tool is being used to build.

Some of that intellectualizing is, I expect, posturing by players who are intimidated by the Conservatory Crowd that turns its noses up at anything that can't say how many sharps it uses or whether or not it qualifies for 'funding' or whatever other thick appliqué of cosmetics the lady may feel she needs to wear to be 'beautiful', and that may be why its mostly only here, in the 'enlightened' and 'advanced' western civilization where we just can't meet on some saturday streetcorner and just play and dance and enjoy what Sun Ra called the Joyful Noise.

david said...

Thanks for the insight into Ornette Coleman's reputation. I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds his musical theories somewhat mystifying.

mrG said...

I think the mystique surrounding many of the jazz greats is at least an equal part of bravado and stringing the journalists along as far as they can, although there is very definately another more serious side that earnestly explores the space and effect of this thing called 'Music', and in that regard, this YouTube of Ornette and George Russell carries an interesting remark at the end: for all the mystery when seen from the western musical traditions, all they are doing, really, is applying "third world technology"

tmorange said...

many thanks! more dewey redman always welcome...

zardoz1984 said...

You never get enough Dewey Redman, unsung hero if there was, the man in Ornette's shadow (just like Jimmy Lyons with Cecil Taylor) but a man with a true musical world of his own. Listen to Ear of the Behearer, for instance.
As for uploading music still in print, the fight will never cease. I just think sharing & making know about underpublicized work will always be more important than limiting its access. Who does not want to pay for sthg will always find a way to get it free. For my part, I prefer to buy records directly from the artists during concerts or on the Net, escaping the hand down of big companies – most of the time – not involved in the creative process.
By the way, I've already bought the Dewey's CD but can find it again in my messy collection, which never runs particular order. So thx for the uploading & very sorry for the departure of some beloved contributors of that fantastic blog. Keep up the good work, folks!

mrG said...

thanks for that tip on Jimmy Lyons -- I'd seen the disks and passed them by, now I won't!

As for in-print shares, so long as its reasonably, you're absolutely right, I can tell you more tales of back-catalog artists who suddenly lept up the queue because some kind fan had to tell their friends, even when their own copyright-owner wouldn't lift a finger to promote them (never confuse the two, copyright-owner and the-artist are almost never the same person) - but there are those artists who just don't want to be found, and who say so, and we have to respect that too, and it does seem a little overkill when you see the entire Saturn catalog available as a single bittorrent share.

MP3 blogs seem a happy medium, maybe more so than radio: they are discoverable, they give you some background and context, you can share your knowledge with others, a community springs up around the music the way it should be, and everybody wins.