252

Von Freeman & Friends: Young And Foolish

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Von Freeman & Friends: Young And Foolish Still one of the best kept secrets in jazz—when he's referred to at all in the standard histories, it's usually only in passing, as the father of reed player Chico Freeman—Chicago tenor saxophonist Von Freeman deserves, instead, to be celebrated as a national treasure.

Freeman was, in his prime, a swing-to-hard bop stylist of extraordinary shamanistic power; a visceralist who preferred to play American songbook ballads, but cooked at fierce temperatures, drenched with the blues, and sprinkled with both the free-improv innovations of Chicago's AACM and the frantic, bar-walking aesthetic of the honking and screaming tenor school. There are resonances with saxophonists Gene Ammons, Big Jay McNeely, Roland Kirk and Ornette Coleman, but Freeman is a one-off.

The low profile Freeman endured during much of his career was partly of his own making. He rarely left Chicago and was content to make a living as a local gigging musician. He also spent long periods away from jazz. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he played with such future Chicago luminaries as pianists Sun Ra, Ahmad Jamal, Muhal Richard Abrams and Andrew Hill, bassist Malachi Favors and tenor Fred Anderson. In the late 1950s, as employment opportunities for jazz musicians in the city declined, he played for strippers and in R&B bands. In the 1960s, he was entirely lost to the music, playing instead behind bluesmen Jimmy Reed and Otis Rush.

All these playing experiences came together to create Freeman's mature style when, circa 1970, he formed a jazz quartet (then, as on Young And Foolish seven years later, featuring pianist John Young). He was "discovered," aged fifty, in 1972 by Roland Kirk, who produced his first own-name album for Atlantic. But national recognition eluded him, and Freeman's subsequent recordings were for smaller labels.

Young And Foolish—seventy minutes of sonic sheet lightning, recorded in concert in Holland in 1977 and excellently remastered for this release—kicks off with a marathon, 26-minute reading of "I'll Close My Eyes," during which Freeman solos for close on fifteen minutes, at times lush and lyrical, at others broiling, multiphonic and intense. The title track is almost as long at eighteen minutes, with the brisk "Bye Bye Blackbird" the shortest track at just under ten minutes. "After Dark," the only explicit blues, is just over seventeen minutes. Each track is packed with incident and utterly compelling from start to finish.

A tour de force of rare and astonishing power, Young And Foolish is the stone favorite for this writer's Best Reissue Of 2007 And Then Some Award. They truly don't make them like this anymore.


Track Listing: I'll Close My Eyes; Young And Foolish; After Dark; Bye Bye Blackbird.

Personnel: Von Freeman: tenor saxophone; John Young: piano; David Shipp: bass; Charles Walton: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Challenge Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Alba" CD/LP/Track Review Alba
by John Kelman
Published: June 10, 2016
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Ten" CD/LP/Track Review Ten
by Jeff Winbush
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Soul’s Journey Home" CD/LP/Track Review Soul’s Journey Home
by Jim Olin
Published: February 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!