Masterfully bridging bop, blues, ballads, funk and free form, Dewey Redman's new album, "The Struggle Continues," is the latest example of the rapprochement between some avant-garde jazz musicians and more conservative listeners.
Even at his most venturesome, Redman has always betrayed a traditional bias. But this time around, his traditionalism is more pronounced. Restricting himself to the tenor saxophone, Redman's tone glistens with boppish inflections on Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square," turns sumptuous on the ballad "Love Is" and becomes seductive on the funky nightcrawler "Turn Over Baby."
Only the febrile "Combinations" suggests the often abstract complexity of Redman's work with Old and New Dreams. But the entire album is in keeping with that band's philosophy of shared improvisation.
The exchanges between Redman and drummer Ed Blackwell and bassist Mark Helias are razor sharp. Pianist Charles Eubanks' playing, ranging from percussive dissonance to swelling romanticism, is especially striking.
For those who've found Redman's recordings with Old and New Dreams too knotty to unravel and his previous solo albums too introspective, "The Struggle Continues" offers an accessible yet uncompromised alternative. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM DEWEY REDMAN QUARTET -- The Struggle Continues (ECM 1-1225). THE SHOW DEWEY REDMAN QUARTET, Monday at 9 and 11 at Blues Alley.