Review by Brad Walseth
Best known for his "outside" work with longtime friend and collaborator, Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman was equally at home playing more straight ahead sounds. ECM has recently re-released "The Struggle Continues" which documents the more traditional, through not "mainstream" side of the tenor saxophonist.
Backed by underrated pianist Charles Eubanks, bassist Mark Helias and Coleman/Don Cherry drummer Ed Blackwell, the quartet burns through five Redman originals plus Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square." The hard-charging "Thren" sounds a bit like Coltrane or Sonny Rollins' '50s output, with Redman wailing over the furious rhythm section, while "Love Is" is a lovely ballad that showcases Redman's gentle side. "Turn Over Baby" is a bit of a surprise to those familiar with Redman's work with Coleman, with the saxophonist and crew getting funky, bluesy and lowdown in terrific fashion.
"Joie De Vivre" again reminds a bit of Rollins with a lighter tone and lives up to its title as a truly happy bop number. The aggressive "Combinations" somewhat touches on Coleman's harmonies and sense of exploration, but is primarily a cooking bop number with Eubanks' solo a nice highlight and Redman getting outside over the ferocity of Hellas and Blackwell. Finally, a pleasing version of the Parker number rounds out this recording.
ECM is to be commended for again re-releasing an important recording of an underappreciated musician. Fans of Redman and/or bopping tenor sax will be sure to appreciate this fine album.