Watch Gregory Hutchinson play, and you will understand why fellow musicians call him "Touch."
Watch Gregory Hutchinson play, and you will understand why fellow musicians call him "Touch." Josh Jackson
Joshua Redman's set at the Jazz Standard last Thursday showed tremendous equipoise, and the saxophonist wore the boutonniere of stardom so nonchalantly as to render it a useless ornament. Strangely, this five-night run marks his first appearance at the club. In a set that started with Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and ended with Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean," Redman's pianoless trio (bassist Matt Penman, drummer Gregory Hutchinson) invested themselves in a kind of anaerobic workout in front of a capacity house.
By the third song, Redman's "Indonesia," Hutchinson had broken a mallet, and sweat was pooling underneath his drum throne. Penman tethered his bass to Hutch's constant churn, and Redman delivered the melodic forward progress. This was a saxophone trio that promised intensity, and it delivered a few cathartic moments.
The set list covered every base, but Redman was calling options to the band during the applause — deliberately curatorial to the moment, yet open to suggestion or amendment. Something from Oklahoma? Check. Three originals? Check. Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady"? Check. After the freedom jazz beat of Joe Lovano's "Blackwell's Message," with Hutchinson leaving no part of his drum untouched, Redman invited Bay Area pianist Taylor Eigsti (a "wunderkind," Redman stated, before changing it to jazz parlance as a "bad mf") for a jazz waltz. Check.
I sat right next to the drums, and when I thought I might be paying too much attention to the overwhelming amount of rhythm coming my way, I deliberately panned over to Redman and Penman. They couldn't take their eyes off him either.
Joshua Redman's trio has been recording its tour performances recently: Yoshi's in San Francisco, Jazz Alley in Seattle. The hard drives are also rolling for this weekend's shows at Jazz Standard. Expect to be able to hear what this trio can do, even if you can't make it to New York before Sunday.