All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

252

Von Freeman & Friends: Young And Foolish

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Young And Foolish | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Challenge Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
The Great Divide

The Great Divide

Premonition Records
2004

buy
 

Inside Chicago, Vol. 4

Premonition Records
2003

buy
The Improvisor

The Improvisor

Premonition Records
2002

buy
 

Live At The Dakota

Premonition Records
2001

buy

Related Articles

Read Walk The Walk CD/LP/Track Review
Walk The Walk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Months, Weeks and Days CD/LP/Track Review
Months, Weeks and Days
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Space Is The Place CD/LP/Track Review
Space Is The Place
by James Fleming
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Poetry in Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Poetry in Motion
by Liz Goodwin
Published: May 21, 2018
Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Music in Motian" CD/LP/Track Review Music in Motian
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Songs Without Words" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Without Words
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "A Pouting Grimace" CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Reality
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 14, 2017
Read "texting and driving" CD/LP/Track Review texting and driving
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "We Are" CD/LP/Track Review We Are
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 1, 2018