Evidently, Sonny Rollins's classic 1957 trio session Way Out West was the jumping-off point for Joshua Redman's own acoustic trio exploration of the East/West nexus, and he recorded versions of I'm An Old Cowhand and Wagon Wheels to underscore the point.
The sense of humour so crucial to the way Rollins approaches his music can be seen in the way he poses on his album sleeve in a Stetson with his unholstered saxophone sitting on his hip, just as the absence of wit and joie de vivre that characterizes Redman's work comes across clearly in his faceless, dark-suited image gazing into a black puddle on Back East.
There's never been any question that Redman can hit the notes and creatively improvise with authority, but it all ends up sounding like he's working from sheet music, because there's no excitement in what he's putting down.
Maybe he just listened to the tracks from Way Out West on his iPod and never really got it because he didn't see the sleeve.
The Joshua Redman Trio plays Nathan Phillips Square Friday (June 29).