Saxophonist Joshua Redman released his first album for Blue Note back in September. Called “Where Are We”, it is also his first where he has worked with a singer. Gabrielle Cavassa is featured on most of the tracks on the album where all of the songs refer to a city or state in the US. They both presented material from the album at Berlin’s Columbia Theater yesterday evening. Gabrielle was the winner of the International Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition in 2021 and released her debut album the year before.
Starting with the witty combination of the Count Basie/Jimmy Rushing piece “Goin’ To Chicago Blues” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago”, Gabrielle proved from the start that this is clearly her terrain. Her phrasing and her way of holding back notes, bending others, was very pleasing and easy on the ears. Joshua too showed his immense versatility, crying and wailing at times, but also showing lots of restraint on several tracks, probably best executed on Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets Of Philadelphia”.
On “Baltimore”, written by Gabriel Kahane, Joshua almost sounded perilous, with lots of dirt, throwing grey tones at you. “That’s New England” was done as this little fun ditty, but not exaggerated. The main piece of the evening was a three-part segue: from Joshua’s own “After Minneapolis” over to “Stars Fell On Alabama” to the grand finale, John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, a rousing and ear-tickling interpretation. I think both Joshua and Gabrielle sounded best on “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, the classic Jimmy Webb tune. While Gabrielle was telling the story of that person leaving his/her lover, Joshua seemed to play the role of the person who was left, trying to figure out what happened and why, asking if she was really gone or maybe coming back? A beautiful dialogue.
As a nice surprise, the group played Marlene Dietrich’s “Ich Hab Noch einen Koffer In Berlin”, her 1954 ode to a city that is both maddening and fascinating.