Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

447

Stefan Karlsson Trio: Music Is Forever: The Music of Russ Freeman

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Music may be forever, but until the advent of modern recording devices, it was also ephemeral. Once the notes had been played or sung, they were gone forever. Thankfully, we now have the means by which to preserve wonderful music such as that written by Russ Freeman—if not forever, at least for many years to come. Freeman, best known as a pianist with Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, and a host of others, was also an astute and tasteful composer, at least one of whose tunes, "The Wind, has become a jazz standard.

Stefan Karlsson, a friend and fellow pianist, wanted to make sure that Freeman's music wasn't gone with "The Wind, so he set about recording a number of Freeman's compositions, with his blessing. In an interview, Freeman said he considered Karlsson one of the three greatest living jazz pianists, the others being Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. The recording was completed in June 2002, and we'll never know if Freeman actually heard the finished product. Ken Hanlon, who produced the album and wrote its excellent liner notes, took a copy to Freeman in the hospital room where he lay seriously ill in a semi-coma. Freeman's wife and brother-in-law decided to put earphones on him in the hope that he might hear it, but he never regained consciousness and died in his sleep the next morning, June 27, a month after his 76th birthday.

If Freeman was able to hear the album, his soul must have been refreshed and euphoric, as the love and respect shown by Karlsson and his colleagues shines brightly in every note. As Freeman first earned wide recognition playing with Chet Baker's quartet in the early '50s, adding a lissome trumpet to Karlsson's trio was a no-brainer, and Stefan chose the perfect stand-in for Baker in Marvin Stamm, who reawakens Chet's spirit on five of the eleven selections, all but one of which, Karlsson's poignant "Elegy for Russ, were written by Freeman. Denver-based Joni Janak was Freeman's personal choice to sing "The Wind and the other tunes with lyrics, "Only You and "Music Is Forever, and she proves him right with marvelous interpretations of each.

While one may argue the premise that Karlsson is one of the three greatest living jazz pianists, or even one of the top hundred, there's no denying his impressive talent, nor that of his partners, bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Ed Soph, or guests Stamm and Janak. Together they've fashioned a picturesque tribute that is worthy of the honoree, laced with sharp interplay and stylish solos, one that is thoroughly engaging from start to finish. Safeguarding some of Freeman's superlative music was a splendid idea for which we should all be grateful, and whose import is summed up in Annie Ross's perceptive lyric to the title song: "When they say nothing is forever, well I just smile 'cause I know it's not true; music is forever, and you still live when we listen to you.

Thanks to Karlsson and his collaborators, Russ Freeman lives on, at least in our hearts and memories, through his transcendent music. It may not be forever, but it's reassuring while it lasts.


Track Listing: Say When; Hugo Hurwhey; The Wind; An Afternoon at Home; Bea

Personnel: Stefan Karlsson: piano; Tom Warrington: bass; Ed Soph: drums. Guest artists: Marvin Stamm: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joni Janak: vocals.

Title: Music Is Forever: The Music of Russ Freeman | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: TNC Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Kansas City Here I Come" CD/LP/Track Review Kansas City Here I Come
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow" CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "90 Going On Amazing" CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 4, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor