Joshua Redman’s latest is certainly easy listening. The mood is laid back. The groove is light; it doesn’t dig deep. The lack of bite is so smooth it teeters dangerously on being slippery. There is a stream of consciousness that flows aimlessly and harmlessly along. It doesn’t take you much anywhere. It’s like what Gertude Stein said about Oakland. There’s no there there. This might be the most appropriate music to listen to when anticipating a root canal procedure. It works like Novocaine.
Joshua Redman is an immense talent. It’s just that when one is graced with such gifts you’d expect the music to be more expressive, more interesting. While there may be an experimental angle to all of this, the music recalls some of the jazz-soul fusion of yesterdecade. But even here it treads lightly sounding unsure of what they are doing. There is a feeling that Redman, keyboardist Sam Yahel, and drummer Brian Blade are piddling around in search of ideas.
‘Can A Good Thing Last Forever?’ has beautiful moments, particularly at the beginning, between Yahel and Redman. There is a misty softness that is sentimental, but not that regretful. The emotion is elastic as it goes back forth between blissfulness and bitterness. ‘News From The Front’ begins strongly with a theme of dissonance and conflict but then it all smoothes out prettily. Kiss and make up. And then there is some space music that feels like an appendage, and then it’s back to the theme. ‘Letting Go’ feels like those moments between consciousness and sleep. Drifting out over the horizon. Sunset fading to darkness. One of the stronger tunes, ‘The Birthday Song,’ has a Weather Report quality. At the beginning it feels like an unstable cold front coming in from over the ocean before settling into more of a quietly celebratory mode. Safe at home while the whole thing blows over.
"Elastic" does sound like the appropriate name for this album. It’s rubbery, but doesn’t have much shape.