Dewey and Don't He

In London (Palmetto Jazz)

Dewey Redman

By Tim Roberts

"I don't like to just play in one mode," veteran tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman says in the liner notes to this release. ". . . if I play bebop all night or play ballads all night, that bores me." Thus advised, we can appreciate the abrupt shifts of styles of Redman's latest release In London. This former member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet and Charlie Haden's Liberation Orchestra, is primarily known as a wild-blowing avant garde performer who also has a strong capability with straight-ahead jazz ballads. He showcases mastery of both In London.

Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's in London back in October, 1996, this session features Redman on tenor and tight support from Cameron Brown on bass, Rita Marcotulli on piano, and Matt Wilson on drums. No matter what style Redman takes, his band is always behind him.

This recording may not satisfy "either-or" listeners: those strictly looking for either standards or avant garde. The selections from In London take a "both-and" approach: both ballads and avant garde. Nothing to buffer in between. The quartet leads with the ballads "I Should Care" and "The Very Thought of You," both of which are slow-dance gems. The fast-moving third track, "I-Pimp," lets us sample Redman's free-wheeling, wild phase. From there Redman jolts back into standards with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Portrait in Black & White," which he prefaces with an unsentimental poem about loneliness. The remaining four tracks are where Redman blows wild and his band is right with him. Throughout the recording, we go from sweet romance, to heartbreak, to electric rage. Sometimes life is like that.

Besides, to paraphrase Redman, too much of one style would be boring.