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CD: Joshua Redman, Walking Shadows (Nonesuch)

Saxophonist Joshua Redman may have the most beautiful tone of any current exponent of his instrument.

So an album of ballads makes obvious sense, and one with Brad Mehldau on piano and production was bound to have interesting choices of material.

The inclusion of string arrangements alongside a jazz quartet has more debatable history with earlier excursions like Charlie Parker's Bird with Strings having as many detractors as fans,. The string arrangements on more than half of this album are of another order of merit altogether, however, and are always an enhancement of the work of the soloist and his partners.

Starting with two of my favourite standards, Kern and Hammerstein's The Folks Who Live on the Hill and Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life, the only other tune from the great American songbook is Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust. If Wayne Shorter's characteristically oddly-constructed Infant Eyes is perhaps another more obvious conclusion, John Mayer and Pino Palladino's Stop This Train is a less predictable success, and the workout Redman and Mehldau give The Beatles' Let It Be a real surprise.

Add a lovely self-penned solo meditation by Redman, Final Hour, and a clever piece of classicism, Last Glimpse of Gothan, by the pianist, and this is a set of many pleasures.

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