Momentum (Nonesuch Records)

Joshua Redman Elastic Band

Released May 24, 2005

Grammy Nominee Best Contemporary Jazz Album 2006




Saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Joshua Redman —whom The Los Angeles Times has called “one of the most vital figures in jazz of the new century”— moves to Nonesuch with two new records. Nonesuch will release two albums that demonstrate the breadth of Redman’s current musical endeavors on May 24: SFJAZZ Collective, an acoustic record featuring Redman with the all-star band he created with the San Francisco Jazz Organization (SFJAZZ), and The Joshua Redman Elastic Band’s Momentum, the second recording from his electric ensemble.
Following years of residence in New York City, Redman returned in 2002 to his native California, where he began collaborating with SFJAZZ eventually becoming the non-profit organization’s Spring Season Artistic Director. Redman and SFJAZZ Executive Director Randall Kline had an idea that The New York Times called a “eureka moment”: the creation of a collective of musicians distinguished not just by virtuosity, but by a unique primary emphasis on composition. The group, inaugurated in 2004, consists of a changing cast of accomplished musicians, each of whom is required to compose a piece of music that can be further developed in collaboration with the collective. The live performances are divided into two parts: The first is dedicated to the music of a modern composer—Ornette Coleman in 2004, John Coltrane in 2005—while the second consists of music by the Collective. The SFJAZZ Collective album comprises recordings from the Collective’s acclaimed first series of live performances in 2004, which included a residency in San Francisco and a handful of additional shows throughout California. The 2004 Collective included vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonist Miguel Zenón, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, pianist Renee Rosnes, trombonist Josh Roseman, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Brian Blade. The album’s seven tracks feature compositions by Hutcherson, Zenón, Redman, and Rosnes, as well as three by Ornette Coleman. The 2005 SF JAZZ Collective consisted of Joshua Redman (saxophone), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Miguel Zenón (saxophone) Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Renee Rosnes (piano), Isaac Smith (trombone), Matt Penman (bass), Eric Harland (drums).

Momentum is the second album from The Joshua Redman Elastic Band. At this group’s core is Redman’s ongoing collaboration with Sam Yahel, with whom Redman began composing, performing, and—with Brian Blades on drums—recording in 2002. Playing with Jeff Ballard on drums, Redman and Yahel have performed live in several major US cities. A Los Angeles Times review said, “It’s no mystery that samplers, sequencers and rhythm machines can produce remarkable results in the hands of performers with minimal musical skills. Would artists such as Redman, keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Jeff Ballard find something richer, deeper, darker? The answer is yes.” Redman and Yahel worked together to create Redman’s album Elastic, as well as a recording released the same year under the moniker Yaya3. Like these previous forays, and this time with a diverse cast of players, Momentum draws upon rock, funk, and other groove-based musical elements, augmenting Redman’s saxophone improvisation with various electric effects and instruments.

The 12-track album includes interpretations of songs by Sheryl Crow, Led Zeppelin, and Ornette Coleman—in addition to material composed by Redman and his Elastic Band counterparts—and features performances by drummer Jeff Ballard, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and guitarists Jeff Parker, Eric Krasno, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein. Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea plays on three of the album’s tracks, Michelle N’Degeocello plays bass on Redman’s composition “Greasy G,” and ?uestlove of The Roots joins Redman on drums for “Put It in Your Pocket.”

Nonesuch President Bob Hurwitz has expressed his enthusiasm about Redman and the new albums. “It’s our great fortune to begin our relationship with Joshua Redman, especially at this particular moment,” says Hurwitz. “While Josh has over the last decade established himself as one of the most important jazz artists of his time, our relationship is starting at a time when he is exploring two quite distinct areas of music, both of which draw upon his past and point towards the future. We are equally excited about both albums and both directions, and look forward to many great things in the future.”

Track Listing:

1. Soundcheck (Joshua Redman / Sam Yahel) 1:26

2. Sweet Nasty (Joshua Redman) 6:20

3. Just a Moment (Brian Blade / Joshua Redman / Sam Yahel) 1:21

4. Shut Your Mouth (Sam Yahel) 5:37

5. The Crunge (John Bonham / John Paul Jones / Jimmy Page / Robert Plant) 2:38

6. Riverwide (Sheryl Crow) 6:20

7. Greasy G (Joshua Redman) 4:35

8. Lonely Woman (Ornette Coleman) 6:11

9. Swunk (Joshua Redman) 8:15

10. Blowing Changes (Brian Blade / Joshua Redman / Sam Yahel) 2:10

11. Double Jeopardy (Joshua Redman) 4:41

12. Put It in Your Pocket (Joshua Redman) 6:51

13. Showtime (Joshua Redman / Sam Yahel) 1:06


Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4-8, 11, 12, 13), soprano saxophone (9, 10), organ (3, 12), bass synth, clavinet (12)
Jeff Ballard: drums (1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 13), drum synth (8)
Sam Yahel: bass synth (1-4, 6, 8, 9, 13), ambient synth (1, 3, 8, 10), lead synth (1, 4), rhodes (2-4, 6-10, 12, 13), organ (2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11), clavinet (2, 4, 9)
Brian Blade: drums (3, 5-7, 10, 11)
Flea: bass (5, 10, 11)
Jeff Parker: guitar (6)
Meshell Ndegeocello: bass (7)
Eric Krasno: guitar (7)
Stefon Harris: vibes (8, 9)
Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (9)
Peter Bernstein: guitar (11, 12)
?uestlove: drums (12)
Nicholas Payton: trumpet (12)

Recorded at Bennett Studios (Englewood, NJ) by Dae Bennett, Brian Dohoretz and Paul Boothe; Royaltone Studios (North Hollywood, CA) by Paul Boothe and Chris Wonzer; and Sear Sound (New York, NY) by Paul Boothe and Steve Mazur
Additional recording at Studio Yaya, Schway Sound and Chez DiazBoothe by Sam Yahel, Joshua Redman and Paul Boothe

Produced by Joshua Redman and Sam Yahel
Co-produced by Paul Boothe
Edited by Joshua Redman, Sam Yahel, Dae Bennett, Brian Dohoretz, Chris Wonzer and Andy Sarroff
Mixed by Paul Boothe and Andy Sarroff
Mastered by Greg Calbi
Design by John Gall
Photography by Michael Wilson


While some may pine for the glory days of the ’50s when jazz was more “pure, the reality is that, artistically speaking at least, the present is a great time for jazz. A more cosmopolitan affair than ever before, jazz has seen younger artists grow up with exposure to so many styles of music—inside and outside of the jazz tradition—that there’s a steady osmosis allowing for the kind of cross-genre infiltration that makes for all manner of new and exciting music. 
Purists may balk, but when you hear an album like Momentum, Joshua Redman’s latest with his Elastic Band—which comfortably mixes material by Ornette Coleman, Sheryl Crow, and Led Zeppelin with Redman’s own originals and a series of brief jam-like interludes—it’s an encouraging indicator that jazz isn’t a museum piece. It’s a living, breathing form that continues to evolve with each passing year.
Redman and keyboardist Sam Yahel, who makes up the core of the Elastic Band along with alternating drummers Brian Blade and Jeff Ballard, know that it’s possible to make funky, groove-centric music that doesn’t fall anywhere close to the area of smooth jazz. Probably the most significant precedent for much of the music on Momentum is Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters recordings from the ’70s. But Redman’s perspective is less dense than Hancock’s layered keyboard approach, and while the group looks back with fondness, they are equally rooted in the present and perhaps positing for a new kind of accessible music that never panders to a lowest common denominator. 
The greater accessibility of recording technology in recent years has resulted in one drawback: young artists sometimes hit the market as leaders before they are perhaps truly ready, and this may have been the case with Redman. While his early albums showed promise, he has only hit his stride in recent years. In fact, to truly appreciate his broad strengths, one need only check out, in addition to Momentum, his recording with the SF Jazz Collective, released simultaneously by Nonesuch Records, and his work on Kurt Rosenwinkel’s recent Deep Song. Redman seems to be making giant leaps these days in terms of sound and harmonic depth, justifying the faith that has been afforded him all along.  Additionally, Redman and Yahel utilize technology in a completely organic fashion; Redman often applies real-time processing to his horn, emulation a larger section sound. And while “Greasy G may be the deepest, most visceral funk on the album—due in no small part to bassist Meshell Ndegeocello’s guest stint—Yahel’s bass synth is equally effective for most of the set. 
Ballard and Blade approach the common musical ground of Momentum from two distinct viewpoints. These two players, like Redman and Yahel, can distill their wide experiences into a more focused groove. 
The easy rhythms and accessible veneer of Momentum belie a greater depth. One need only listen to the contemporary yet open-ended arrangement of Coleman’s “Lonely Woman, beside the folk-like lyricism of Crowe’s “Riverwide, to appreciate the true breadth of everyone’s reach. 

John Kelman (All About Jazz)