Two special re-releases in August 2007 by great American reedmen, each of whom has had a profound, if under-acknowledged, impact on the development of jazz. We’re glad to welcome back into the catalogue Dewey Redman’s “The Struggle Continues”, and Bennie Maupin’s “The Jewel In The Lotus”, long out-of-print titles now making their first appearance on CD.
Dewey Redman was born in Fort Worth Texas in 1931 and played with another mighty local saxophonist, Ornette Coleman, while still in his teens. From the late 1960s until the mid 1970s he worked again with Ornette – both live and on a number of recordings for Blue Note, Impulse and Columbia - and, in the same period, played alongside Coleman’s bassist Charlie Haden in Keith Jarrett’s ‘American Quartet’ (ECM albums “The Survivors’ Suite” and “Eyes Of The Heart). He was later a co-founder, with Charlie Haden, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell of the group Old and New Dreams, whose ECM discs are the eponymous “Old And New Dreams” and the concert recording “Playing”, both celebrating Coleman’s sound-world. Other ECM recordings with Redman included Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra disc “The Ballad of the Fallen”, and Pat Metheny’s “80/81”. Every one of those discs is special. “The Struggle Continues”, Redman’s only ECM disc as a leader, is a reminder of why Dewey was so highly regarded by his peers. With Ed Blackwell’s soulful net of rhythms lifting him up, he moves through a range of styles with absolute authority and authenticity, from gently lilting balladry to free play, from the Texan tenor blues to bebop. Redman, a self-taught player, believed the appeal of his music to be a rough ‘rural’ expressiveness (“the sound of a country boy trying to make it in the big city,” he once said), but this hardly accounts for the poetry of his jazz solos or the cunning of his stream-of-consciousness free improvisation…The programme here is comprised of Redman originals plus Charlie Parker’s speeding “Dewey Square”. Redman’s quartet features Blackwell, bassist Mark Helias near the beginning of his career (although he’d already played with Anthony Braxton and Anthony Davis), and the consistently interesting pianist Charles Eubanks whose earliest recording were 1960s sessions for Motown. Dewey Redman died in September 2006, fourteen years after his friend Blackwell passed away.