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Joshua Redman on 'Momentum' and Jazz

INTERVIEW: Releasing two albums simultaneously, the prolific and charismatic bandleader, composer and saxophonist discusses the future of music and preconceptions of jazz

This interview was published in Drum Magazine (2006) under the title 'Joshua Redman Interview: Up to Speed'. 

DRUM: Why call the new Elastic Band’s album ‘Momentum’?

Joshua: One title idea was ‘Silly Little Love Songs’ after a track we didn’t use. Another was ‘We’re Not Sound checking’. Titles are usually afterthoughts. Naming music takes it out of its own realm and into the realm of words; the music I play generally isn’t vocal, so trying to find a word to capture the spirit of it is difficult. But the title has relevance. Momentum’s a physics term, in a way a transitional term – I see the band in a transition. Also, ‘Momentum’ is more energetic compared to earlier work. 

DRUM: Can you tell us about the process behind making it?

Joshua: I conceived the album as having a flowing storyline. We live in the internet age. You can’t expect people to listen to your album from beginning to end; people pick and chose tracks on their computers, which is fine. I’m not frustrated, change is inevitable. But the album as an artistic concept is heading to extinction. I don’t think artists will make them in 20 years; they’ll be anachronisms and indulgences, but as long as I can make albums, I will. I started to use electric instruments and departed from acoustic, swing – based jazz on the previous album ‘Elastic’. I used funk and rock grooves, I got my feet wet on that album, on ‘Momentum’ I’m knee deep in new stylistic territory, there’s lots more techniques and elements from outside of jazz in there, but it’s still a highly improvisational jazz album.

DRUM: How about SFJAZZ Collective, the acoustic album made with San Francisco Jazz Organization (SFJAZZ) and released the same day as ‘Momentum’ is that more ‘traditional’?

Joshua: SFJAZZ Collective is just as modern as ‘Momentum’ in many ways; it’s just a different musical context. The instrumentation is all I would call ‘traditional’ – the compositions are very modern. I’m the Artistic Director, but the music is a collective consensus.

DRUM: Jazz seems at loggerheads with itself, the ‘traditional’ locked in battle against the ‘contemporary’, yet your music transcends the in-fighting. Is this a conscious effort?

Joshua: I’m aware of the ongoing dialogue or ‘tension’ between the forces of tradition and modernity in jazz, or at least the perception. A lot of the ‘tension’ is media driven, rather than an artistic reality; a lot of the best music has elements of both. I just do what feels right at the time and trust my musical instincts. Flea, Meshell Ndegeocello and ?uestlove are on ‘Elastic’ because I love their work, not to try and reach out to a ‘non jazz’ audience. 

Find out more about Joshua Redman at:

Words: Originally published in DRUM Magazine, for more, visit

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