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Dewey Redman
Born : Fort Worth, Texas, May 17th. 1931

One of the great avant-garde tenors, Dewey Redman has never received anywhere near
the acclaim that his son Joshua Redman gained in the 1990s, but ironically Dewey is much
more of an innovative player. He's a self-taught player who "learned by trial and error
and watching other saxophone players do what I do and asking them questions. That's the
best lessons in the world." Those lessons, he says, will soon be published in an instructional book. And through it all, whether it be blues, bop, free or pop, Redman has a simple - even if somewhat self-effacing - way of categorizing himself: "I think of myself as a country boy from Texas trying to make it in the big city."

Dewey Redman

An identifiable sound has always been important to Redman. "I can't be critical of other musicians or other saxophonists. But back then, you could listen to Coleman Hawkins and tell that it was Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young and it was Lester Young. The same with John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. You could tell the difference. Today, we're in the post-Coltrane era where a lot of saxophonists are still in the Coltrane genre," he says. "It's not only saxophones, it's like that in other areas. For example, female singers. I guess I'm getting old. Back then, I could tell the difference between Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae. And Sarah Vaughan and whoever. But today, they all sound the same to me. I can't tell one from the other. Times change. That was then and this is now." What doesn't change is Redman's approach to his instrument, and his open-minded approach to his art. "In my world, the first thing I reach for is the sound. Technique is Ok, but… if you got the technique and I got a good sound, I'll beat you every time. You can play a thousand notes and I can play one note and wipe you out. What I reach for is ... a sound."

Saxophonist Dewey Redman.

"I like John Coltrane pretty much. The saxophone-players I like are Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon. As a matter of fact the second tune on Live in London is called The very thought of you and I dedicated it to D.G., which is Dexter Gordon. I tried to play it in his style, in the flavor of Dexter. I like many people, singers: Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday.
I figured out one time that everybody I liked, they weren't of the same gender, they weren't born under the same astrological sign, they weren't of the same race. But they all had one thing in common: they had a good sound. What I reach for first when I play is sound. Technique maybe, but there is technique in sound".

Set Up
Instrument : Tenor Mark VI
Mouthpiece : Berg Larsen 90/2
Reeds : Prestini From France

Dewey Redman

Though Dewey may not be as well known to the average jazz fan as his son Joshua, Dewey's career is full of important musical adventures. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas in the 1930's "What I really wanted to play was the trumpet because it only had three keys. I went to a teacher and he was a brother and he said, "You can't play trumpet because your lips are too big." I was embarrassed and discouraged, but I found out later that he needed clarinet players because there was a church band that he was in charge of and nobody wanted to play the clarinet because it squeaked and so that was the reason that he told me this, but I never forgot it. He began on clarinet when he was 13 and played in his high school marching band, a group that also included Ornette Coleman, Charles Moffett, and Prince Lasha.. He went on to earn himself a masters degree in education. After his army call up he became a teacher for a number of years, where he says he learnt more lessons from his pupils especially about human nature, then he taught them! In 1959 he moved to Los Angeles for a short time where he was reunited with his dieing father after 15 years of separation. He journeyed San Francisco in where he freelanced as a musician for seven years; Pharoah Sanders was among his sidemen also worked with Wes Montgomery. "One reason that I stayed in San Francisco for a long time was that I had always played by ear. I didn't know anything about chord changes or two, five, one and all that. What I did was the last two years that I stayed in San Francisco, I rented a piano and learned about chords and changes and all of that on the piano. It was a great help to me because I knew that if I went to New York, I couldn't go to New York just playing by ear. I had to verse myself in the harmonic side of music and the technical side because you can't be in New York, you have to know damn near everything, even though I still played by ear mostly

Dewey Redman
It was 1967 when he made the big move to New York and hooked up with his old Texas schoolmate Ornette Coleman. Dewey joined Ornette's band where Redman's tenor playing was a perfect match for Ornette's alto. Redman could play as free as the leader but his appealing tone made the music seem a little more accessible and stayed for seven years travelling around the world and making some fantastic recordings. It was also during this time that Dewey began working with Charlie Haden's politically oriented Liberation Orchestra as well with Keith Jarrett's far-reaching group of the 70's with Paul Motian on drums, playing with Keith it was tighter. Keith wanted his music played exactly as he wrote it. In 1976 he formed a band with Ornette's old bandmates Don Cherry, Haden and Ed Blackwell which was soon to be known as 'Old and New Dreams' (from the title of an album they recorded). Throughout all the recordings Dewey made with these different groups his improvisations have a quality of depth and fullness, tradition and newness. It sounds like he has combined head and heart, intelligence and emotion, soul and spirit to create a very personal means of expression. Dewey's musical presence in all of these bands is very powerful and important in their overall sound and character. His is a strong musical personality and I think is the goal of all improvising musicians, to develop a voice that is uniquely yours and to have something interesting to say with the people you are working with. This is Dewey Redman, who although suffering with prostate cancer is still touring the world with his fellow musicians. Despite all of this activity and plenty of recordings (including occasional ones as a leader), Dewey Redman has yet to be fully recognized for his innovative talents!

Dewey Redman photo: Jonathan Saunders.


Momentum Space
1996 Live In London
1996 Mostly Live
1995 Musics
1992 African Venus
1992 Choices
1989 Living on the Edge
1982 The Struggle Continues
1980 In Willisau
1978 Soundsigns
1978 Musics
1974 Coincide
1973 The Ear of the Behearer
1969 Tarik
1966 Look for the Black Star

Also Appears On
2004 Impulsively!
2004 Other Side Of Keith Jarrett
2003 Jazzactuel
2003 Justin Time Records 20th Anniversary Compilation 2002 Spirituals & Dedications
2001 Jazzactuel [Box Set]
2001 Palmetto Records 2001
2000 Finding Forrester
1998 Live from Soundscape: Back on 52nd Street
1997 Critics Picks, Vol. 1
1995 A Tribute to Ornette Coleman
1993 School Work
1992 Dark Metals
1991 ReR Quarterly Selections From, Vol. 2
1991 Works II
1987 One for Blackwell
1980 80/81
1979 Old and New Dreams [ECM]
1976 Old and New Dreams [Black Saint]
1971 Birth
1972 Skies Of America
Broken Shadows
1971 The Belgrade Concert
1971 European Concert
1971 Science Fiction
1970 Friends And Neighbors
1969 Broken Shadows
1969 Man On The Moon / Growing Up
1969 Crisis
1968 Ornette At 12
1968 Love Call
1968 New York Is Now
1966 Paris Concert

Peter Madsen ~ "There are so many great recordings to recommend of Dewey. Check out one of his own like African Venus on Evidence or Live in London on Palmetto. With other bands check out Crisis by Ornette Coleman or Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra both on Impulse, The Survivors Suite with Keith Jarrett, 80/81 a cool recording with Pat Metheny, and Old and New Dreams all on ECM. Or check out Dewey on Matt Wilson's recent As Wave Follows Wave on Palmetto or Dark Metals by Anthony Cox on Minor Music. I feel lucky to have gotten a chance to play with Dewey Redman and I hope those of you who only know his son Joshua (who has become a fine musician over the years) will go and check out Dewey who is the truly great innovative artist"

Dewey Redman

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