BYG/Actuel : 1969
DR, musette; Malachi Favors, bass; Ed Blackwell drums.
(IF THE) MISFITS (WEAR IT)
Impulse : 1973 [buy]
KJ, piano, soprano sax; Dewey Redman, tenor sax; Charlie Haden, bass; Paul Motian, drums; Danny Johnson, percussion.
The Ear of the Behearer
Impulse : 1974 [buy]
DR, alto sax; Ted Daniel, trumpet; Jane Robertson, cello; Sirone, bass; Eddie Moore, drums, Danny Johnson, percussion.
Impulse : 1975
DR, tenor sax; Sirone, bass; Eddie Moore, drums.
RIP, Dewey Redman.
We don’t have a whole lot to add to the excellent obits that have been posted elsewhere; see the entry below for several links. But we wanted to pay tribute to a wonderful musician whose contributions to jazz have been woefully underplayed. Dewey Redman boasts an impressive resume including important stints with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett. And many of his contributions as ‘der are no less remarkable.
“Tarik” comes from his second release under his own name. This classic BYG session was overlooked at the time, but has grown in esteem over the years thanks to reissues and its inclusion on Thurston Moore and Byron Coley’s excellent Jazzactuel box set back in 2000. The title track showcases Dewey’s superb musette playing. It creates a distinctly Eastern vibe, buzzing and prayerful in its concentrated execution.
Redman was part of one the great (if under-hyped) groups of the 1970s, Keith Jarrett’s so-called American quartet. For much more on this crew, see Do the Math. The track here, from the live Fort Yawuh, features a typically tremendous Redman statement on tenor.
The Impulse sessions Redman did in the mid ’70s are also prime material. Ear is an incredibly varied session, including everything from textural songs that slowly unpeel their layers, to fast, free-bop-like blitzes, to soulfully modulated blues vamps. We’ve selected the brief but powerful “Sunlanding.”
Recorded the following year for the Coincide album, “QOW” features a stripped-down trio charging through a rollicking free funk tune. It’s one of the great – and rarely discussed – examples of the genre. Fans of Dogon A.D. won’t want to miss this.
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Here’s a brief personal reminiscence about Dewey from our friend Harold Yen:
The only time I met Dewey Redman was in the mid-90s at a small avant-garde jazz venue in Berkeley, California. It was just on the heels of his son’s meteoric rise from promising Yale law student to young lion phenom, and all the press at the time made hay of the fact that his father, whom he didn’t know growing up, was also a jazz musician. That night Dewey cheekily referenced this when he introduced himself to the audience as “Joshua Redman’s father.”
After the gig, a group of us aspiring musicians approached him and I asked him about his signature tone. He took a deep breath and put my hand on his belly as he exhaled. It stayed hard as a rock. “It all comes from the diaphragm,” he said. Dewey once said in an interview, “If you got the technique and I got a good sound, I’ll beat you every time. You can play a thousand notes and I can play one note and wipe you out.”
Three weeks ago, at Central Park’s Summerstage festival, Dewey wiped us out for the last time. The occasion was the somewhat dubious comeback gig of Asha Puthli, whose ethereal vocals on Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album have become stuff of legend. But, Asha’s bizarre persona, awkward banter and slicked-out funk/r&b backing band made the show embarrassingly amateurish. By the time she introduced her special guest, the crowd had dwindled from 600 to about 60.
But magic happened when Dewey took the stage and delivered a two minute unaccompanied introduction to Harold Arlen’s standard, “Out of This World.” His tone was as beautiful as ever — earthy, yearning and mercurial. It was the sound of humanity, wiping out the synthesizers and over-amplified guitars. It was a sound that most of the remaining audience had likely never heard. But they responded instinctively to his playing by making more noise for him than they had all day.I noticed off-stage, hidden in the shadows, Ornette himself sitting and listening. It made me feel so good to see the two of them together. They had come a long way, two childhood friends from Fort Worth. Dewey’s beautiful music and generous spirit will be missed.
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Some quotes from Dewey Redman:
“The heart of the matter is sound. No matter what I’m playing or how I’m playing, I always strive for a good sound. Technique is meaningless without a good sound.”
“My ambition is not to be recognizable and this is not easy. I would like to play music in whatever style I choose and play it well. Each time that I play, I want to do it differently but well. It’s easy to play favorably when one plays in a certain style, in a single way, but it is not so simple to play 50 different styles and be good in each of those styles.”
“I’ve never read a review where the guy seemed to know what I was trying to do. It’s always that I use some kind of funny effect or a growl or holler. But it’s not a fluke, it’s something that I studied, and I have never heard anybody else do that.” [on vocalizing through his horn]
“Music is the most powerful force I know; it’s the only force that can make you cry, laugh, be happy, dance, fuck, fight. It can do strange things to people. Music is the only pure thing that’s left because everything else is so corrupted, and being a Black jazz musician in America is hardly a lucrative thing. I’m happier when I’m playing than when I’m walking to the bank, and I’m happy doing that, too. But the two don’t hardly go hand in hand.”
“I never think of it as making a living, really – and you have to face that fact. I spend most of my time thinking about music, and I believe that if you have faith in music, if you’re sincere and honest about what you’re doing, you’ll be provided for. And so far, it has worked out.”
& & & & & & &
It’s been exciting to see all the amazing lists generated by Dave Douglas’s comments about jazz in the 70s and 80s and Ethan Iverson’s list of personal favorites. Do yourself a favor and check ‘em out, along with the Bad Plus’ follow-up posts, now in progress.
ADDED LATER, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION AND EASY BROWSABILITY:
Please do not sleep on some rich and amazing contributions to the ’73-’90 jazz record confab from the following–
Darcy James Argue;
Ethan Iverson & Co., volume 1;
Ethan Iverson & Co., volume 2;
Ethan Iverson & Co., volume 3
We’d like to thrown our own hat in the ring, in a limited way. We hope our recent Muhal Abrams and Marion Brown entries are examples of more great ’70s and ’80s jazz. And we’d like to make it plain that we think jazz in the 1970s was every bit as good as jazz in the 1960s. It may not have been as (outwardly) culturally significant, and many of the gems might have been released on tiny labels, but title-for-title the decade holds its own. And for sheer variety, it’s pretty much unbeatable. See this list, a decade’s worth of favorites from an Italian fan, writer, and obsessive list-maker, to get the wide view.
As for the 1980s, well, like the rest of music during that decade, many otherwise fine jazz recordings suffered from poor production choices that now sound hopelessly dated. But there are still more stellar recordings out there than most people might recognize. Stay tuned and over the next year we’ll be throwing out plenty of examples so you can decide for yourself.
In the meantime, and despite the formal closing of the invitational, here are a few key artists and albums from the ’70s and ’80s that haven’t turned up on the other lists (so far). They’re more examples of the incredibly diverse and rich offerings of the period:
Air – Lore; Albert Mangelsdorff; Alexander von Schlippenbach; Alice Coltrane – Transfiguration; Amina Claudine Meyers; AMM; Anthony Davis; Arthur Blythe – Fulton Street Breakdown and Bush Baby; Bennie Maupin – Jewel in the Lotus; Bill Dixon – Considerations I; Billy Bang; Butch Morris – Dust to Dust; Charles Gayle – Touchin’ on Trane; Don Cherry – Brown Rice and Relativity Suite; George Lewis – Homage to Charles Parker; Globe Unity Orchestra; Henry Threadgill – Rag Bush and All; Herbie Hancock – Sextant; Horace Tapscott – The Dark Tree; Larry Young – Lawrence of Newark; Lester Bowie – The Fifth Power; Marilyn Crispell; Michelle Rosewoman – Quintessence; Miles Davis – every single thing he recorded until his retirement in 1975; Randy Weston; The Revolutionary Ensemble; Ronald Shannon Jackson – Mandance; Rova Saxophone Quartet; Sam Rivers – Crystals and Hues; Sonny Sharrock – Guitar, Seize the Rainbow, and Ask the Ages; Sun Ra – Lanquidity, St. Louis Blues, and Disco 3000.
–Apologies if some of these were listed elsewhere already, or miss the date cut-offs.
–And what are some of your favorite jazz titles from the 70s and 80s?