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Joshua Redman: Elastic

This CD is being heralded as a new step for Joshua Redman, although the tenor saxophone, organ and drum combo is hardly new to jazz. It’s being marketed as “Redman’s first work with electric instruments,” which after eight acoustic albums amounts to a shrewd repackaging of his talent. And the truth is, it follows on the heels of the self-titled CD by Yaya3, which features the same personnel-Redman with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade. The Yaya3 CD came out on Loma Records, once the R&B subsidiary of Warner Bros. (1964-68) and reactivated especially for Redman’s trio, suggesting a certain corporate ambivalence in deciding how to best market the label’s biggest selling jazz artist when he steps out of character-even slightly. Yet Redman has always been a shrewd judge of the music business, and in particular mainstream jazz audiences, balancing imaginative unpredictability and ingenious grandstanding with a charm his fans find endearing.

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