Saxophonist Joshua Redman released a new album, Walking Shadows, on May 7. It’s an all-ballad disc, featuring pianist Brad Mehldau (who also produced), bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Brian Blade, as well as an orchestral ensemble, conducted by Dan Coleman. Other than the orchestra, this is the exact same personnel as Redman’s 1998 disc Timeless Tales for Changing Times. That album featured versions of pop tunes like the Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” Bob Dylan‘s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and Prince‘s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” alongside jazz standards like “Love for Sale,” “How Deep is the Ocean” and “It Might as Well Be Spring.” The new album follows a similar schema, including “Lush Life,” “Easy Living” and “Stardust” as well as another Beatles tune (“Let It Be”) and “Stop This Train,” by John Mayer.

The idea of Redman—a player who’s explored groove and funk quite extensively, and gone into some fascinating rhythmic directions lately—doing an all-ballads album, even one with strings, is interesting, and a sign that he continues to experiment and step out of his comfort zone. His last disc under his own name, 2009’s Compass, was almost the opposite of this; it featured two bassists and two drummers on several tracks, and was my favorite of his releases to date. I return to it often. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impression Walking Shadows makes on me, both immediately and over time.

Phil Freeman

You can stream the track “Final Hour” below:

Get it on Amazon.

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