Reference Entry

Redman, Joshua

Wayne Dawkins

in Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780195167795
Redman, Joshua

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jazz saxophonist. Born Joshua Shedroff in Berkeley, California, Redman is the son of Renee Shedroff, a former dancer who also worked as a librarian, and Dewey Redman, a saxophonist and experimental jazz icon who played with Ornette Coleman's ensemble. Joshua's parents were not married, and Redman left California for New York about the time of Joshua's birth. Although Shedroff had to rear her son in impoverished conditions, she instilled an appreciation of music in him—including by taking him to concerts featuring Dewey Redman, when Redman made rare trips to the West Coast.Joshua Shedroff became interested in playing saxophone at age ten. His mother borrowed a horn through a school program that served underprivileged children. Shedroff played in the Berkeley High School jazz band and concentrated on his studies. He was class valedictorian and was accepted to Harvard College on a full scholarship. Shedroff played in Harvard's jazz band and during a summer break performed with his father at the Village Vanguard jazz club in New York City.Shedroff graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1991, then received a perfect score on the LSAT law-school entrance exam. He was accepted to Harvard, Stanford, and Yale law schools but decided instead to pursue music full-time in New York.As a young adult, Joshua Shedroff changed his last name to Redman in order to avoid explaining why he and his father had different surnames. Joshua Redman—brainy, handsome, and skilled on the saxophone—faced a special burden: record companies, music critics, and others had high expectations that Redman would help reenergize and reinvent jazz. Redman resisted overt attempts to market him as the next Sonny Rollins, the saxophone great that many people heard in Redman's sound. The developing musician pleaded for patience as he searched for his own musical voice.In 1991, at the urging of friends, Redman entered the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, and he won the $10,000 prize for first place. After the win, record companies battled to sign Redman to a contract. He signed with Warner Brothers, and Joshua Redman (1993) was his debut album. Featured tunes were “Tribalism,” “Groove X,” a rendition of Monk's “Trinkle, Tinkle,” and a reinterpretation of James Brown's soul classic “I Got You.”Rather than intellectualism, the distinctive Joshua Redman sound injected emotion, sensuality, and soul into tradition-bound jazz tunes. His debut album sold thirty thousand copies within four months of its release. Redman's next big album was Wish (1993), which in 1993 was the most frequently played jazz album on radio and sold two hundred thousand copies worldwide.Redman's next album was MoodSwing (1994). In 1996, Redman released Freedom in the Groove. His 2000 recording Beyond included the tunes “Leap of Faith” and “Twilight … and Beyond.” Redman also portrayed the saxophone legend Lester Young in Kansas City, Robert Altman's 1996 film noir about jazz and criminal activity in the 1930s.Redman frequently records with another jazz star and band leader, the bassist Christian McBride. Redman has also recorded with musicians and singers as varied as the drummer Elvin Jones, the singers Michael Franks and Peabo Bryson, and the rapper Big Daddy Kane.Redman married Gabrielle Armand, a record company executive, in 1997.

Reference Entry.  559 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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