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Joshua Redman
Cezanne
Friday, October 21

There's only one word to describe jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman live: phenomenal. His concert performance surpassed anything even hinted at by his recordings. Of course, his last recording is seven months old, and in Redman years, that's at least a decade.

Time seems to be on serious fast forward for Redman. He started playing serious jazz only three years ago, recorded his first CD in four hours (it was nominated for a Grammy) and managed to snare Pat Metheny as a sideman for his second CD outing.

Redman recorded his third CD, Mood Swing last March and hit the tour trail in April, stopping in Houston for two shows with his quartet before heading to South America. Unschooled in the usual too-cool-to-be-understood attitude that affects most jazz musicians, Redman offers a version of free jazz that's for feeling, not thinking. His repertoire runs from Duke Ellington to James Brown, but centers on his own compositions.

Redman's range is staggering. He jumps from the bottom of the horn to altissimo with no noticeable effort. His solos are fearless, mature and emotional. He's also funny, playing with ideas and sneaking in asides. Redman's performance single-handedly rebuked alarmists who claim jazz is dead.

Local trombonist Andre Hayward joined in for two songs and slid nicely into the groove Redman so eloquently set.

-- Olivia Torre

Hominy Bob, Keenlies, Rugrash
Red Diaper Baby
Saturday, October 22

It's no negligible drive to get to Galveston's Red Diaper Baby, but with a lineup that amounted to a Battle of the (Undeservedly) Unpopular Bands, it was worth the gasoline.

Rugrash played first, and if nobody's yet heard of them, it's probably just because they've played less than a dozen gigs so far. Vocals, Hammond and spastic twitching come courtesy of ex-Sprawl singer Matt Kelly, guitar riffage is provided by ex-Sprawl fret-man Joey Salinas and the band's disorienting metallic art funk is anchored by the rhythm section of brothers Jason (bass) and Brian (drums) Davis. It's a tight, in-yer-face sonic barrage that splices an enduring P-Funk fixation to a Pantera fetish, and if you like your music to knock you around without being a bully about it, it works like a charm.

Keenlies took the stage next and augmented the smart, hyperkinetic guitar pop set that's made a lasting fan of the likes of me with -- I can't believe I'm finally getting to write this -- a couple of new tunes. Why the Keenlies have been unable to expand on their loyal but tiny fan base remains one of local rock's great mysteries and disappointments.

Austin's Hominy Bob headlined, playing fractured, trombone-spiced ditties built more for quivering than dancing, and proved, if anyone was wondering, that you can (at least they can...) mention James Agee in a rock song without sinking the damn thing in pretension.

An arty bill, no doubt about it, but in a scene too often mired in punk-rock redundancy or coasting on name recognition in a static pop wasteland, it sure as hell sounded like temporary salvation.

-- Brad Tyer

 
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