Von Freeman: The Great Divide (2004)
The disc begins with a bit of banter before Freeman, in his irreplaceable style, spins out eight minutes of the infrequently covered "Be My Love." Here, Freeman displays what makes his sound unique among the "giants" he proposes to honor. His tenor sound is deep, reedy and full of breath with a barely detectable vibrato. This tosses the saxophonist smack dab in the middle between Bean and Lady Day's President. It is here and on the solo saxophone closer, "Violets for Your Furs," that Von Freeman shows who he is?a tenor saxophonist of Beethovenian proportions, having seen all and played all, from Frankie Trumbauer and Greg Osby.
The centers of the recording are the blues pieces "Blue Pres" and "Disorder at the Border." Mr. Freeman takes on the ghosts of Pres and Bean directly, without ever losing himself in either artist's style. "Blue Pres" sounds like the best after hours blues anyone could hope for and has probably been in Freeman?s book from the beginning. Freeman?s own "Never Fear, Jazz is Here" and "This is Always" look forward and backward from Charlie Parker. The one ghost that is not mentioned is that of John Coltrane, who emanates from Freeman?' sax bell on "Chant Time" like "-pious incense from a censer old."
This recording is all that any mainstream jazz fan could hope for. Von Freeman is that quiet elder statesman whose fame fortunately manifest while it is not too late for the great saxophonist to enjoy it. A disc for the year-end list, for sure.
Track Listing: Von: "You Ready?;" Be My Love; Never Fear Jazz Is Hear; This Is Always; Chant Time; Von: "Everybody Mellow?"; Blue Pres; The Great Divide; Disorder At The Border; Hard Hittin'; Violets For Your Furs.
Personnel: Von Freeman: Tenor Saxophone; Jimmy Cobb: Drums; Richard Wyands: Piano; John Webber: Bass.
Record Label: Premonition Records