Dewey Redman(1931-2006)

I MET DEWEY REDMAN in Fort Worth on a gray day in 2000. He was cleaning out the home of his recently deceased mother, and he welcomed our interview as an excuse for a much-needed break. The iconic saxophonist, who passed away on September 2 at age 75, talked engagingly about music, his famous son Joshua, and his remarkable life. Remembered as a vital and impetuous voice in the adventurous jazz movement, Redman didn’t set out to be a full-time musician. He was already 36 when his boyhood pal Ornette Coleman coaxed him up to New York in the late sixties. But his impact was immediate. Redman played his tenor sax with an urgency his peers lacked; his stunning work with Coleman, Keith Jarrett, and Old and New Dreams made up for lost time. Still, with long periods of inactivity, Redman never seemed to find his definitive break. I last saw him in 2005 at an Austin club gig with drummer Gerry Gibbs. He said he was tired. Coleman once described Redman as “always in a low key”; there was a resigned sadness brought about by his near miss at the big time. Yet even without his due rewards, he knew what anyone hearing his brilliance among the jazz elite realized: He had left his mark.

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