Of the young jazzmen who rose to prominence during the '80s and early '90s, saxophonist Joshua Redman always struck me as the laid-back counterpart to trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Like Marsalis, Redman is a classicist -- his style sticks close to the sound of '50s bop -- but he seems content to do his thing without declaiming upon the merits of other forms of music or trying his hand at more "serious" work. Redman's new album, "Back East," is in part a playful tribute to Sonny Rollins' 1957 LP "Way Out West," but it also features some interesting original tunes -- of which "Mantra #5" is one. Given the song's title, the Eastern-influenced main melody comes as no surprise, but Redman balances the more meditative moments with some spritely, darting improvisations.
-- David Marchese