We may not know yet when America’s schools will return to non-virtual classes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but whenever they do, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) will have a new faculty member: Joshua Redman. The Grammy-nominated saxophonist and bandleader was recently named the artistic director of the conservatory’s Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM) program, a partnership between SFCM and the SFJAZZ organization.
In his new position, Redman will work alongside RJAM’s director Jason Hainsworth to help develop the three-year-old program, and share his expertise with students in one-on-one sessions, studio classes, ensembles, and lectures. To prepare students for multifaceted career paths, RJAM students train as both performers and composers, using an apprenticeship model that involves members of the SFJAZZ Collective ensemble as well as other professional musicians.
“I recently heard some RJAM students perform and I was just blown away,” Redman said in a statement. “They sounded well-studied, highly proficient, fluent, energetic, virtuosic—everything you would expect from serious young jazz players today—yet strikingly also with their own emergent identities and approaches. I am delighted to be joining them on their musical journeys.”
Born and raised across the bay from San Francisco in Berkeley, California, Redman is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard and earning a coveted slot at Yale Law School, he opted to defer school for one year in order to move to New York and immerse himself in the jazz scene. Emboldened by an early win at the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, Redman abandoned the idea of law school just a few months later, embarking instead on a nearly 30-year (so far) musical career of extraordinary range. Froom 2000 to 2007, he was artistic director for SFJAZZ’s spring performance season; during that time, he co-founded the SFJAZZ Collective.
Redman formed his first permanent quartet as a leader in 1994, with Brad Mehldau on piano, Christian McBride on bass, and Brian Blade on drums; the album they released that year, MoodSwing, is on the short list of the most acclaimed and influential jazz recordings of the past three decades. Recently, this quartet—each member of whom has gone on to be a major jazz force in his own right—reunited to record a second album, RoundAgain, due out July 10 on Nonesuch. The coronavirus permitting, they will tour to support the new album in the summer and fall, including an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 26.