Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

120

Von Freeman: The Great Divide

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Von Freeman: The Great Divide There's an inclination to treat an 81-year-old sax master with kid gloves when assessing a new recording, but Von Freeman needs no such assistance.



The Great Divide continues his late in life resurgence as he pays tribute to former co-players Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker. It may not be a landmark album, but there's no doubt Freeman is masterful player and Divide is a pleasure from start to finish.



Freeman, whose previous album The Improviser was a live performance with an appearance by young modernistic genius Jason Moran on piano, doesn't bring any radically new ideas to the arena here. But Freeman offers insight and spirit players a quarter his age ought to respect and learn from. There are no clichés here, nor does let the attention of his audience wander as he shifts comfortably between mid-tempo swing, complex ballads, and the occasional romp into hard bop and free improvisation. And his tone, long considered too avant-garde for a wider audience, may finally be perfectly suited for the modern age. The overall result is an album that possesses the gift of being intelligent without being overly scholarly.



He introduces his phrasing in fine form on the mid-tempo "Be My Love" before showing he can still bop furiously with anyone on the original "Never Fear Jazz Is Here" (the linear notes call it "'I Got Rhythm' at a super-fast tempo"). The real show-stoppers are his free improvisation over a single chord to the slow but rumbling rhythms of "Chant Time" and unaccompanied leisurely exploration of phrases and tone in the closing ballad "Violets For Your Furs."



Contributions from drummer Jimmy Cobb (the last surviving member of the Miles Davis sextet that recorded Kind Of Blue ), pianist Richard Wyands and bassist John Webber are largely subdued. All get solo time and accord themselves well like the longtime veterans they are, but this is largely Freeman's show.



It's pure speculation to hint that Freeman may not possess the stamina he once did—he lets Wyands do the soloing on "Never Fear Jazz Is Here" and there aren't the extended-length cuts found on some other albums—but that robs nothing from what is here. Freeman has never achieved widespread recognition outside his hometown Chicago despite some stellar albums, so The Great Divide is unlikely to change that. But it will please fans and is certainly a solid bet for anyone looking to sample his work, although first-timers might want to start instead with one of two live CDs— You Talkin' To Me? from 1999 or The Improviser from 2002.


Track Listing: Von: "You Ready?"; Be My Love; Never Fear Jazz Is Here; This Is Always; Chant Time; Von: "Everybody Mellow?"; Blue Pres; Disorder At The Border; Hard Hittin'; Violets For Your Furs

Personnel: Von Freeman, tenor saxophone; Jimmy Cobb, drums; Richard Wyands, piano; John Webber, bass

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Premonition Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Sunkissed" CD/LP/Track Review Sunkissed
by Jeff Winbush
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Duo
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Funk 'n' Feathers" CD/LP/Track Review Funk 'n' Feathers
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Cantos Invisíveis" CD/LP/Track Review Cantos Invisíveis
by Troy Collins
Published: November 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!