Back East cover

Back East

Released

Sonny Rollins’ 1957 album Way Out West was a breakthrough release for him, featuring the legendary Harlem-born saxophonist with just bass and drums on his first trip to the other side of the US. Fifty years later, Joshua Redman (born in California, but recording in New York) offered a mirror-image response, tackling two of the tunes from the Rollins album — “I’m An Old Cowhand” and “Wagon Wheels” — alongside standards popular in the 1950s (“The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,” “East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)”), several originals, and versions of Wayne Shorter’s “Indian Song” and John Coltrane’s “India.” Redman records with three different rhythm sections: bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Ali Jackson on six tracks, Christian McBride and Brian Blade on two, and Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland on three. He also brings in guest saxophonists on three tracks; Joe Lovano, Chris Cheek, and his father, Dewey Redman, in his final studio appearance. Hearing the two Redmans tear into “India,” the older man’s gritty tone harmonizing with the younger’s earnest but intelligent and still developing voice, is a deeply moving experience and a beautiful piece of music.

Phil Freeman

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