Joshua Redman was born February 1, 1969, in Berkeley, California. By the time of his birth, his father, noted saxophonist Dewey Redman, had moved to New York and was playing with Ornette Coleman. Redman's only contact with his father was hearing his records around the house, and during infrequent visits to town with Coleman, Keith Jarrett, Old and New Dreams, and others. His mother, Renee Shedroff, a dancer and librarian, was the driving force that nurtured his creativity.
Redman's formal music training began when his mother enrolled him in Indonesian and Indian music
classes at the Center for World Music. These unique art forms, along with the recordings of Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, and Dewey Redman were his early influences. Redman soon learned to play the recorder, guitar, and piano. He listened to popular music, such as James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, the Commodores, Parliament-Funkadelic, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles.