Joshua Redman’s excellent new album marks a homecoming of sorts. The tenor saxophonist is joined by Aaron Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums—an immaculate rhythm section Redman last played with on his 2001 release, Passage of Time. The band first recorded together on Beyond, the year before. Nearly 20 years have gone by since then, though their rapport is none the worse for it. If anything, the quartet now sounds wiser and more self-assured.
Featured here are seven original compositions by Redman, a straight-ahead collection of runic melodies ranging in style from jam-like funk to medium swing to soulful balladry. Although Redman is the leader, he treats the group like a democratic institution, giving ample solo space to his bandmates, particularly Goldberg, whose dark, low-register vamps at the beginning of several songs create a mysterious mood. Rogers lays down a firm foundation with his resonant bass lines, while Hutchinson, a longtime collaborator who appeared on Redman’s self-titled debut album in 1993, keeps things in flux with his liquid ride cymbal and crackling snare hits.
But of course Redman—whose last album, Still Dreaming, released in 2018, was a tribute to his father, the late saxophonist Dewey Redman—is the main attraction. His saxophone sound, dry and yearning, is one of the few in modern jazz that is instantly identifiable. And it is a sound to savor, best heard here on the title track, a slow, somewhat mournful tune. If Redman seems wistful, perhaps that’s because the passage of time tends to have that effect on us all.