Like many, I sold most of my old LPs shortly after the digital age rocketed into full steam. Not sure if that was such a good thing, and perhaps I jumped the gun. These days, audiophiles spend thousands on high-end analog equipment and often shun the sometimes characterless recorded sound of solid state CD/digital equipment technology. But it’s always a welcome surprise when a record label reissues a golden gem from the past on CD. Such is the case here with the re-release of well-traveled sax great Dewey Redman’s 1982 quartet effort titled "The Struggle Continues."
Former Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett accomplice amid his historic co-formation of "Old and New Dreams" with trumpeter Don Cherry and bassist Charlie Haden, this album finds Redman skirting the mainstream schema. The saxophonist steers his band through a program that edges the boundaries of bop, free-bop, and swing amid some nicely arranged avant-garde episodes. And Redman’s fluid lines ride atop an open-air sound, partly accentuated by drumming great Ed Blackwell’s melodic and infamously poetic-driven metrics.
Redman’s prolific phrasings cast a lyrically-rich musical climate throughout. On "Love Is," pianist Charles Eubanks’ lush voicings set the tone for Redman’s rather quietly soaring lines, while Blackwell and bassist Mark Helias inject an ever-so-soft backdrop. But they kick it up a few notches during the bouncy blues piece "Turn Baby Over." Nonetheless, Redman’s mantra includes a string of jubilantly iterated theme-building maneuvers. It’s an uplifting gala indeed, where the band slams matters into overdrive on the rapidly-paced and scrappy free-form jaunt titled "Combinations." In sum, this jewel of a recording glistens just as radiantly now, as it did some twenty-five years ago.