In 1991 Redman graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Social Studies. He had already been accepted by Yale Law School, but deferred entrance for what he believed was only going to be one year. Some of his friends (former students at the Berklee College of Music whom Joshua had met while in Boston) had recently relocated to Brooklyn, and they were looking for another housemate to help with the rent. Redman accepted their invitation to move in, and almost immediately he found himself immersed in the New York jazz scene. He began jamming and gigging regularly with some of the leading jazz musicians of his generation: Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Kevin Hays, Roy Hargrove, Geoff Keezer, Leon Parker, Jorge Rossy and Mark Turner (to name just a few). In November of that year, five months after moving to New York, Redman was named the winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. This was only one of the more visible highlights from a year that saw Redman beginning to tour and record with jazz masters such as his father, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Elvin Jones, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, and Clark Terry. For Joshua, this was a period of tremendous growth, invaluable experience and endless inspiration.
A year later, Redman began to channel his jazz sensibilities through new instrumentation and formed The Elastic Band, a flexible, electrified, groove-based trio built on an ongoing collaboration with keyboardist Sam Yahel and drummer Brian Blade. The band debuted on the 2002 releases yaya3 and Elastic. Drummer Jeff Ballard began to play regularly with the Elastic Band later that year, and he (along with Blade and Yahel) played a central role in their next recording, the Grammy-nominated Momentum, which was released in 2005 to inaugurate Redman’s affiliation with Nonesuch Records, and featured a diverse and exciting lineup of special guests.
In 2000, Redman was named Artistic Director for the Spring Season of the non-profit jazz-presenting organization SFJAZZ. Redman and SFJAZZ Executive Director Randall Kline had an idea that The New York Times called a “eureka moment”; the creation of the SFJAZZ Collective, an ensemble distinguished both by the creativity of its members and a unique primary emphasis on composition. Inaugurated in 2004, the eight-piece band consists of a multi-generational cast of accomplished musicians. The Collective’s repertoire features both commissioned works and new arrangements of the work of great modern jazz composers. In March 2007, Redman announced that he was taking a hiatus from both the SFJAZZ Artistic Directorship and the SFJAZZ Collective in order to focus on new projects.
The following month, Nonesuch released Redman’s first ever piano-less trio record, Back East, featuring Joshua alongside three stellar bass and drum rhythm sections (Larry Grenadier & Ali Jackson, Christian McBride & Brian Blade, Reuben Rogers & Eric Harland) and three very special guest saxophonists (Chris Cheek, Joe Lovano and Dewey Redman). On Compass, released in January 2009 (Nonesuch), Joshua continues to explore the expansive trio format, and with a group of collaborators as intrepid as he is – bassists Larry Grenadier and Reuben Rogers, and drummers Brian Blade and Gregory Hutchinson – Redman literally and figuratively stretches the shape of the trio approach; on the most audacious of these tunes, he performs with the entire lineup in a double-trio setting.
Starting in late 2009, Joshua began performing with a new collaborative band called James Farm featuring pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The band infuses traditional acoustic jazz quartet instrumentation with a progressive attitude and modern sound, and has been met with rave reviews across the globe.
Released in June 2014, Redman’s newest album, Trios Live (Nonesuch), was recorded at New York City’s Jazz Standard and Washington, DC’s Blues Alley during stands with two different trios – Redman and drummer Gregory Hutchinson with bassist Matt Penman (Jazz Standard) and Redman and Hutchinson with bassist Reuben Rogers (Blues Alley). Trios Live features four original tunes by Redman and interpretations of three additional songs.
In addition to his own projects, Redman has recorded and performed with musicians such as Brian Blade, Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Aaron Goldberg, Larry Goldings, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Roy Haynes, Billie Higgins, Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Quincy Jones, Big Daddy Kane, Geoff Keezer, B.B. King, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, DJ Logic, Joe Lovano, Yo Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride, John Medeski, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, Marcus Miller, Paul Motian, MeShell Ndegeocello, Leon Parker, Nicholas Payton, John Psathas, Simon Rattle, Dewey Redman, Dianne Reeves, Melvin Rhyne, The Rolling Stones, The Roots, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Scofield, Soulive, String Cheese Incident, Clark Terry, Toots Thielemans, The Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Mark Turner, McCoy Tyner, Umphrey’s McGee, US3, Bugge Wesseltoft, Cedar Walton, Stevie Wonder and Sam Yahel. Joshua Redman has been nominated for 2 Grammys and has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He wrote and performed the music for Louis Malle’s final film Vanya on 42nd Street, and is both seen and heard in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.