Redman / Fortner / McBride / Blade at Hill Auditorium

The all-star group of saxman Joshua Redman, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade visited Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan on April 21 for a Mood Swing Reunion (named for SEMJA Review Redman’s 1994 album). The concert opened with UMS announcing that pianist Brad Mehldau had taken ill and would be replaced by Sullivan Fortner, who I had encountered earlier accompanying Cecile McLorin Salvant. As much as I was looking forward to hearing Mehldau again, Fortner turned out to be an excellent stand-in.

The group played several songs from their 2020 recording (Round Again). “Silly Little Love Song” was a groovy, very danceable piece. One of McBride’s compositions, “Silly Diss” from the same album, was clever and Monkish, with Redman doing the honors on soprano sax and featuring memorable exchanges between all members towards the end of the piece.

McBride’s tone on his bass is formidable and his walking paired beautifully with Blade’s more free-wheeling drumming. Mostly Redman showcased his robust and soulful tenor. His role as a spokesman for the group was a more mixed blessing, as he seemed delighted in being obtuse and absent-minded. The audience was enthusiastic, and the applause might have contributed to the encore.