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 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.

Title: The Great Divide | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Premonition Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "#knowingishalfthebattle" CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Velcro Bird" CD/LP/Track Review Velcro Bird
by John Eyles
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "Malnoia" CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Nadje Noordhuis" CD/LP/Track Review Nadje Noordhuis
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 18, 2017
Read "14.11.2016" CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.