Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to emerge in the 1990s. Born in Berkeley, Calif., he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. He was exposed at an early age to a variety of musics (jazz, classical, rock, soul, Indian, Indonesian, Middle-Eastern, African) and instruments (recorder, piano, guitar, gatham, gamelan), and he began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone, one year later. The early influences of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and his father, Dewey Redman, as well as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, the Temptations, Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, The Police and Led Zeppelin drew Joshua more deeply into music. But although Joshua loved playing the saxophone and was a dedicated member of the award-winning Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble and Combo from 1983-86, academics were always his first priority, and he never seriously considered becoming a professional musician.
In 1991, Redman graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in social studies. He had already been accepted by Yale Law School, but he deferred entrance for what he believed was only going to be one year. Some of his friends (former students at the Berklee College of Music whom Joshua had met while in Boston) had recently relocated to Brooklyn, and they were looking for another housemate to help with the rent. Redman accepted their invitation to move in, and almost immediately he found himself immersed in the New York jazz scene. He began jamming and gigging regularly with some of the leading jazz musicians of his generation: Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Kevin Hays, Roy Hargrove, Geoff Keezer, Leon Parker, Jorge Rossy and Mark Turner (to name just a few). In November of that year, five months after moving to New York, Redman was named the winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. This was only one of the more visible highlights from a year that saw Redman beginning to tour and record with jazz masters such as his father, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, and Clark Terry. For Joshua, this was a period of tremendous growth, invaluable experience and endless inspiration.
Now fully committed to a life in music, Redman was quickly signed by Warner Bros. Records and issued his first, self-titled album in the spring of 1993; it subsequently earned Redman his first Grammy nomination. That fall saw the release of Wish, on which Redman was joined by the all-star cast of Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. He toured extensively with Metheny throughout the latter half of that year. His next recording, MoodSwing, was released in 1994, and it introduced his first permanent band, which included three other young musicians who have gone on to become some of the most important and influential artists in modern jazz: pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade. A later edition of this ensemble included guitarist Peter Bernstein, pianist Peter Martin, bassist Chris Thomas and Blade. Over a series of celebrated recordings including Spirit of the Moment/Live at the Village Vanguard, Freedom in the Groove and Timeless Tales (for Changing Times), Redman established himself as one of music's most consistent and successful bandleaders and added soprano and alto saxophones to his instrumental arsenal. His second acclaimed quartet, featuring pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, was formed in 1998 and made its recorded debut on the 2000 album Beyond. The dynamic interplay and uncommon rapport of this group inspired Redman to write and record his first long-form composition, Passage of Time, which was released in 2001.
A year later, Redman began to channel his jazz sensibilities through new instrumentation and formed The Elastic Band, a flexible, electrified, groove-based trio built on an ongoing collaboration with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade. The band debuted on the 2002 releases yaya3 and Elastic. Drummer Jeff Ballard began to play regularly with the Elastic Band later that year, and he (along with Blade and Yahel) played a central role in their next recording, the Grammy-nominated Momentum, released in 2005 to inaugurate Redman's affiliation with Nonesuch Records, and featuring a diverse and exciting lineup of special guests. In 2000, Redman was named Artistic Director for the Spring Season of the nonprofit SFJAZZ. Redman and SFJAZZ executive director Randall Kline had an idea that The New York Times called a "eureka moment"; the creation of the SFJAZZ Collective, an ensemble distinguished by both the creativity of its members and a unique primary emphasis on composition. Inaugurated in 2004, the eight-piece band consists of a multigenerational cast of accomplished musicians. The Collective's repertoire features both commissioned works and new arrangements of the work of great modern jazz composers. In March 2007, Redman announced that he was taking a hiatus from both the SFJAZZ artistic directorship and the SFJAZZ Collective to focus on new projects.
Starting in late 2009, Redman began performing with a new collaborative band, James Farm, featuring pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The band infuses traditional acoustic jazz quartet instrumentation with a progressive attitude and modern sound, creating music that is rhythmically and technically complex and at the same time harmonically rich, melodically satisfying, and emotionally compelling.
In addition to his own projects, Redman has recorded and performed with musicians such as Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, DJ Logic, Joe Lovano, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, The Rolling Stones, The Roots, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Scofield, Soulive, McCoy Tyner, Stevie Wonder and Sam Yahel. Redman has been nominated for two Grammys and has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He wrote and performed the music for Louis Malle's final film, Vanya on 42nd Street, and is both seen and heard in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.