Jazz musician Josh Redman. Picture: Jay Blakesberg
“I obviously didn’t play that badly for them to invite me back,” jazz musician Joshua Redman laughed, who returns for a second visit to Johannesburg to play at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

He will be one of the big international attractions at the annual festival, now in its 20th year, at the Sandton Convention Centre from September 28 to 30 .

Redman, who has been in music for decades and is a revered name in the business, loves to talk about his craft and his goals of educating young musicians.

He will be one of several jazz personalities who will engage with young local musicians and his workshop is set for 10am on September 28 at Tshwane School of Music, Eersterust, Tshwane.

He said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity to come back to South Africa after about nine years.

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“Only one other time I set foot on the African continent and that was in Angola round about the time I came to South Africa.

“I’m really looking forward to it this time and will have more opportunities to look around and explore. I do a lot of playing and a lot of touring but this is definitely something that’s off the beaten path for me.”

He will be working in a quartet with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson - his favourite musicians - and they will be having a ball on stage, he assures.

“I will be playing with a quartet who’ve been playing together for about 20 years. This is the main quartet I toured with from 1998 and did about 150 gigs a year. We play together regularly in a four-year span because over the years I’ve played with a lot in different combinations,” he said.

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He wasn’t too sure what repertoire he’ll unveil: “As far as the repertoire goes, it is that I am always writing new music and playing new songs so it will be a combination of original music, some standards, and material which I had written when we first started playing together.

“Also, we’ll do some of my more recent music.

“I don’t know what we will be playing especially with a band like this because it keeps things fresh. When on the bandstand I will suddenly call a tune. They are fantastic musicians and we have a lot of fun playing together.”

Talking about his latest album, Nearness, which came out last year, he worked with his long-time friend and collaborator Brad Mehldau with whom he’s had a 25-year performing relationship.

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“It’s our first duo album which we recorded live during our European tour. In 2008 we started to do some duo gigs. Then we had a substantial tour in 2010 and 2011 and some of those gigs were recorded. We were planning to do a live record anyway and it worked out,” he said.

The record was nominated for a Grammy in the best jazz instrumental album category.

He praised Mehldau’s musicianship and the fact he was a deep listener and a spontaneous, interactive musician.

Asked what he thought about music today, he said: “The music is healthy and there are some incredible musicians playing great music. It’s fine, but certainly the business of economics and trying to make a living from it has changed, especially for jazz musicians - it hasn’t got any easier.

“There are not as many opportunities out there. I am lucky. I am busy and I will do it as long as I can. I love playing live with great musicians. I still feel like a baby in this music and I still feel a sense of awe and wonder. Whenever I step out on stage it’s so unpredictable and I don’t know what will happen.”

Redman said this was not the path he had planned for his career and didn’t expect to be a professional musician.

“I was going to study law. But music took hold of me. I play music because it feels so good to play music.”

Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz tenor saxophonists in world music.

Born in Berkeley, California, he is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff.

At an early age he was exposed to a variety of musical styles and instruments. He began playing clarinet at the age of nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the tenor saxophone.

He has over the years recorded a huge body of work and shows no signs of slowing down, mentioning a tough touring schedule over the next few months that will take him over the world.

In addition to his many own projects, he has recorded and performed with illustrious musicians such as Brian Blade, Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea.

Audiences are in for a treat.

The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz event will be hosted on four stages - Dinaledi, Conga, Mbira and Diphala - and there will be over 30 performances.

Audiences will be able to buy a two-day festival pass providing access for Friday and Saturday.

* Tickets are on sale at Computicket at R795 for a day pass and R1350 for a two-day pass.