Music Feature: Joshua Redman

If you’ve read my previous post, you know of my undying conviction that jazz must be preserved in this country. That’s not only up to our government, but up to us as a community. We must direct our attention to the struggling jazz artist, even if we can’t get enough of the new Beyoncé album.

(This is a digression, but as I wrote Beyoncé’s name, WordPress autocorrected her name to add the little accent onto the e. Beyoncé is now in the realm of autocorrect. She is an archetype of the digital unconscious.)

Anyway, Joshua Redman is no struggling artist. With NPR features, a $13,000 horn, and a Grammy award for his album Songs of Joy and Peace, you could say he’s doing pretty well. And he deserves it. Listening to this man flow through warm, miraculous tones is like getting lost in an oceanic reverie. Here’s one sample:

For those not familiar with the saxophone, it requires an intricate control of breath and lip over the reed to play well. This selection is a perfect example of how the tone should sound. It has to be free from extraneous noises, go from quiet to loud subtly, and sound on time. Redman plays with a sensitivity that is deceptively simple. This particular piece was written by him, and he’s joined by Brad Mehldau on piano. When you have one of the world’s greatest living pianists at your side, magic is bound to happen.

Joshua Redman doesn’t just play the soft romantic stuff though. He can swing, and he can attack a melody with abounding energy. Here’s one of his more upbeat pieces that still maintains the quality tone:

I’m pretty certain that this man has worked harder than we could ever imagine. A summa cum laude graduate from Harvard, he turned down Yale Law School to become a professional jazz musician. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition in 1991. Since this time, he’s put out 17 feature albums. He’s touring as I write this, performing in venues from Reno to Geneva. His trio is going to be featured at the upcoming “Bachfest” in Leipzig, Germany. Though he’s been on the scene since the mid-90’s, he shows no signs of slowing down. Except maybe on a ballad 😉

What I also respect about Redman is that he’s a true thinker. And I’m not the only one who feels strongly about the United States’ nationalistic connection to the spirit of jazz. In 2014, he was quoted as saying:

“I do feel there’s something special and unique about playing for audiences that are really engaged when you’re in the United States. There is a connection that’s special, and I think that has something to do with the fact that this is a music that comes from this country. Although it’s become a world music and, obviously, there are great jazz musicians from all over the world and it connects with audiences all over the world, there is a fundamental core of this music that comes out of an American experience.” – Joshua Redman

I wish I could articulate my point that well. I also wish I could get my tenor to sound as pristine as he does. But I’ll leave it up to the pro. So I’ll leave you with this, a supreme collaboration between Joshua Redman and the Bad Plus. I urge you to sit quietly and do nothing other than listen. Close your eyes if you have to. Even if you don’t “get” jazz right now, I promise there will be some meaning you gain from it…

Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau’s latest album, Nearness, is available on iTunes. This blog is not affiliated with them in any way. But I do suggest you buy the album right now. Or at least stream it on Spotify. Because it’s awesome.

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Check out the #HMPYG Spotify playlist!

Can Music Improve Your Sex Life?

When I was in college, my housemate was constantly working on, modifying, and adding to his prized “sex playlist.” He took a special pleasure-staking pride in this craft. I won’t give away all his secrets, but selections ranged from Pinback to Kendrick Lamar. He was entirely confident in his playlist’s ability to set the mood and enhance his coitus. Though it’s obvious that music and sex go together, I’ve found myself asking: how great is this potential?

  According to contemporary research, it’s very, very great.

A University of Japan study showed that single people’s perceptions of potential partners improved favorably with background music on. They had 20 minutes to chat, and rated their impression of the other person afterwards. Potential partners with no music on were less impressed. With music on, people were more impressed. But this simple experiment doesn’t explain much. If music helps with interpersonal chemistry, what about our body chemistry?


One of the biological compounds responsible for both relaxation and regulating penile erections is nitric oxide. (Note: Do NOT confuse this with nitrous oxide.) I can recall nitric oxide, or NO, being mentioned in a text from my early experiences with music therapy, Musical Healing (2003) by Stefano, Bernstein, & Kim. Here is an excerpt:


“…NO has been shown to be a necessary molecule in the development of the auditory system, which is required to enable music to act as a relaxant…we believe that the complex NO signaling system is the primary and fundamental method by which music acts as a relaxation device.”


Not only is this NO good for healthy hard ons, but good for us in general. With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the U.S. (and possibly the whole world), we need all the stress relief we can get.

The next compound to talk about, oxytocin, gets mentioned a lot in magazines and other blogs. There’s even one of those trendy posters for it…


We’re still finding out much about oxytocin, but what we do know is that it increases bonding and affection between people. And guess what? Music is linked to higher levels of oxytocin. In one experiment, singing for 30 minutes was shown to significantly boost oxytocin levels. If you want to see this in action, just talk to a woman at a Michael Bublé concert.


So how do we make this all work? Sitting around playing your Prince album is not going to magically make you a better lover. It is highly recommended that you consult a music or sex therapist to get the maximum benefit of interventions and techniques. And guess what? My wife a music therapist that works with engaged couples, helping them to both plan their weddings and bond through music therapy.


You can find her info here: (Another note: You do not need to be planning a wedding to take advantage of her services!)


This is a very brief overview of how music can greatly enhance sex and create the necessary conditions for intimacy in our body. Don’t take my word for it though, get in touch with your local music therapist and/or sex therapist. If you want to keep it basic, here’s my very own sex playlist…

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