JOSHUA REDMAN | London, Ronnie Scott’s

On arriving at Ronnie Scott’s to see Josh Redman I was desperate to see the show, and also quite keen to have a drink. I took my place at the bar, poised to order — and then didn’t turn round to order a drink during the entire show.

Joshua and his band (Reuben Rogers on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums) are the most mesmerising trio I have ever seen on stage. The entire performance could be a conversation between three old friends, their minds as agile as their hands. Often, Josh starts playing as though he’s just thought of something to say; man and saxophone have merged so entirely that during the encore, he might have been cracking jokes in the form of short, sharp notes. This was supple, elegant, muscular jazz.

In one dreamy number, ‘I’m Glad There Is You’, the notes rippled so sweetly the song might have been an invocation for world peace. ‘Blackwell’s Message’ had verve, with a sharp opening from Reuben, whose birdlike attention to his instrument only ever ceased as he glanced over at Josh or Gregory, his drumming always inimitably tight and focused. A cover of Gabriel Kahane’s ‘Veda’ brought Josh’s glasses and sheet music out. ‘This is so easy!’ he quipped; they laughed together, and started, without saying anything else, to make it sound exactly that. Redman is unbelievably attuned to the timing of everything that goes on around him; as he smilingly accepted audience applause, he already seemed to know exactly how long it would last, and when he could start playing again.

Just before they left the stage, Redman said: ‘We hope to see you again under more sane political circumstances’ – and music of this genius might just be the thing to give Monday’s packed house the confidence to keep believing in that.  

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