You go into LongGone with the knowledge that saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade are long-established masters, and a foregone conclusion that what you’re about to hear will surely be stellar. And it is.
As the Joshua Redman Quartet, the young upstarts first recorded together in 1994 on the heralded MoodSwing. Then they took a lengthy break, returning in 2020 with RoundAgain. That album, which featured material composed individually by all four, sounded like the work of an outfit that had been meeting up regularly all along; there was a comforting familiarity embedded in their interactions, a cohesiveness that belied the time they’d spent apart building their own careers.
LongGone feels no less unified, although it takes a slightly different tack: All six pieces are written by Redman, who takes more of a leadership role. That isn’t to say that Mehldau, McBride, and Blade fall into accompanist roles, only that Redman pops out more often and more determinedly throughout. He’s pointing the way from the opening seconds of the title track, and he’s still doing so when the sole live number, a killer updating of “Rejoice” from MoodSwing, reaches its peak velocity.
Redman’s dominance aside, LongGone ultimately isn’t about the dexterity of the individual. Like its predecessors, it’s a textbook display of what happens when a group of musicians—each a leader in his own right—understand and trust one another enough to let the music go where it must.