Jazz comes back to Billings in a big way when saxophone great Joshua Redman steps on stage at the Alberta Bair Theater at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 2.
Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged in the 1990s. Born in Berkeley, California, he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff.
In 1991 Redman graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude and had already been accepted by Yale Law School, but deferred entrance for what he believed was only going to be one year. Instead, he moved to New York City and immediately found himself immersed in the city’s burgeoning jazz scene. Five months later Redman was named winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition.
Since then, Redman has worked and played with a vast array of jazz luminaries, released over 20 albums (Warner & Nonesuch), and has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone.
Redman’s latest project is a celebration of the power of three – the music of three iconic jazz composers interpreted in the classic trio format of saxophone, bass and drums. The music is drawn from the works of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter, each of whom Redman considers “not just relevant but foundational” for today’s musicians, and the setting returns to a format that he has excelled in throughout his career.
The project emerged in part from his COVID-19 pandemic experience. Literally on his way to the airport for a three-week tour of Europe when the world shut down in March 2020, the saxophonist found himself in the unprecedented situation of not being able to make music with another human being for over six months.
“When I finally started getting together occasionally with folks for outdoor jam sessions,” he recalls, “the approach was predictably casual: ‘Let’s just play some tunes.’ Naturally, a lot of the tunes that were called were ones written by Duke, Monk, or Wayne.”
Tickets are $37, $27, and $17 for students and available online, at the ABT Box Office, open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and by phone at 406-256-6052.