JAZZ HANDS Despite the infinite limits of its sound and today’s easy proliferation of music, modern jazz is not always ‘accessible’ to new ears. But acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman tells Carley Hall the genre’s in great shape.
s a young Harvard graduate back in 1991 with a social studies degree and an Ivy League academic pathway towards law before him, Joshua Redman appeared to have a firm hand on the rudder of his own destiny. But being the son of renowned jazz saxophonist Dewey Redman is heritage that can’t be denied, so when Redman junior fell into the revived New York jazz scene of the 1990s he didn’t look back. “I’m not sure how great a musician I am but I’m pretty sure I would have made a lousy lawyer!” Redman laughs.
“If I had more than one life I would maybe choose that path but I have no regrets. It was a great time to come up as a jazz musician, and the music itself is in great shape now. There was a bit of a resurgence of jazz in – I don’t want to say popular culture – but mainstream culture and there were a lot of opportunities to gain exposure. At that time a lot of the master musicians from the previous generations were still around in leading bands and it was a great opportunity to apprentice with a lot of them.” Redman’s ascension through the ranks of modern jazz to become one of the world’s
most acclaimed saxophonists and a genre leader for his progressive arrangements was made solid when he took out the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Saxophone title the same year he moved to the Big Apple. With a collaboration list as long as he is tall, Grammy Awards and a small mountain of albums, Redman knows how valuable the opportunity is to share his passion, especially when modern jazz, as he says, still has the ability to “mystify” even the most willing of audiences. “Let’s just say jazz is not the most accessible music, especially modern jazz today. The attention span of our culture may not be what it was and jazz is a music that does require a certain amount of patience and attention, even a certain amount of work from the listener. So in that sense some of what we do can be a bit, well, audiences can respond well and sometimes be a little confused.” Regardless, audiences can expect to be well looked after when Redman ropes in three of his musician buddies – Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drummer) – for a series of jazz festival gigs throughout the country as the Joshua Redman Quartet. Redman says there’s more love than tension between himself and his friends of more than 20 years. “As a musical family we’re surprisingly functional!” Redman laughs. “Sometimes we have spirited discussions about things but everyone is so cool and there’s so much love amongst us that we really get on very well. These are brilliant musicians and virtuosos and know all the different styles of jazz but most importantly they have huge ears and there’s a real kind of soulfulness that they bring to music, which to me is irreplaceable.”
WHEN & WHERE: 7 Jun, Brisbane International Jazz Festival, Queensland Multicultural Centre
THE RUNAWAY BOY
Stray Cats’ drummer Slim Jim Phantom talks with Tom Hersey about his legacy and who’s going to carry the torch for further generations.
think we invented it to be honest with you,” Slim Jim Phantom says, looking back on Stray Cats’ impact on the rockabilly scene.
From any other artist this might sound like typical rock star hubris, but with their 1981 self-titled debut, the trio set the template for the genre – everything you need to know about rockabilly can be found on that record, from Jim’s stand-up drumming to the scuzzy pompadours sported by the band members on the front cover. According to a good-humoured Jim, his catalogue of work with Stray Cats, and groups like Phantom, Rocker & Slick, The Head Cat and Swing Cats, makes these solo tours a lot of fun. “At this point I’ve been around for long enough, everybody’s nice to me. It’s a little bit like being Ringo but on a smaller scale. [Audiences] like it when I sing the songs, there’s not really pressure… They come because I’m a character that they’ve known a long time now, and it’s a brand they can trust.” When he gets here, Jim’s hoping to catch up with old friends, especially The Living End’s Chris Cheney. “Fans can expect more or less what they’ve known about me and what I’ve kinda earned my stripes doing. It’ll be rockabilly music. There’ll be a couple of Strike Out songs in there, a lot of family favourites… I’m bringing Tim Polecat from the Polecats. We made a record together
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about ten years ago with the band 13 Cats so we’ll do some of those and some original songs… Just the same Slim Jim they’ve known and grown to love.” So, if Stray Cats started rockabilly, who’s out there in the next generation of artists to keep it going? “There’s a lot of good stuff. I really like Imelda May and JD McPherson. There’s a lot of people who are breaking through. And those guys are both on their way, and so all it’s going to take is for somebody to have that hit record. We did that with Stray Cats when we first formed, we got those couple of songs that are now pretty well entrenched in the public consciousness. I
still play Rock This Town in the jungles of the Amazon or China or Australia and everybody knows it. It’s up to someone to do something like that. We’ve gotta get that hit record that crosses over into the mainstream but brings the rockabillies along for the ride. “I encourage everybody to get out and make it broad appeal. It’s there to be loved by everyone; it’s not just some exclusive club. We never set out to play for an exclusive slice of the population; we just wanted to play for everybody all the time. And rockabilly, that’s my scene. I love the music and the style and the people, but I think we should expose ourselves to all sorts of stuff.” WHEN & WHERE: 7 Jun, Cooly Rocks On Festival, Gold Coast; 8 Jun, Caxton Street Seafood & Wine Festival
Published on Jun 3, 2014
Published on Jun 3, 2014
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