Monday, October 3, 2011

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico Reeds- Happy Birthday Von Freeman- Saxophone Legend.

Happy Birthday Von Freeman!

Von Freeman is a saxophonist and Chicago jazz legend in a town that is known for producing a lot of both.Von Freeman is the namesake of a street Von Freeman Way and the recepient of an honorary doctorate from Northwestern University. That's very cool, and a bright moment in jazz.

Von Freeman is an iconoclastic jazzman, a tenor sax player and a life long fixture on the Chicago jazz Scene. Long regarded as among the top players in the world, he still gigs regularly in a weekly jam session he heads on the south side of town.

Von's style is all his own. Clearly having learned the lessons of Bebop, he chooses instead to play inside changes when he wishes with an outside tone, again when he wishes, playing lines with incredible speed and dexterity.I always loved his taste as to when to use this and when not to.So many other tenor players, play solos that have nothing to do with the song. Not Von, but this is an asset of a master, and he is also a great pianist too.

I consider Von Freeman possibly the most compelling instrumentalist I have experienced,I used to hear him live when I'd travel through Chicago. At a point, I got to talk to him and found him to be a very sweet and open guy. Really a walking history book and fun to talk with. I heard him at the Jazz Showcase on Rush St many times and also at the other spots around town.

That first record he did " Doin' it right now" I still listen to, when I got it, it messed me up because of his great sense of time and harmony. I couldn't stop listening to it! His playing was bold, visceral, and striking. Also one of the hippest versions of " Lost In A Fog" ever. Or let me say one of my favorites! The late John Stubblefield and I used to hang and try to cop Von's articulation, or try to. That Chicago time feel, and the driving attack. I just love it.

There's another Von record, that you got to check out- with our man Frank Catalino on it. It's called " You Talkin' To Me"...and it is amazing. It was the first time I heard Frank, and knew I would be a fan. One of the best records in the Delmark catalog, and damn Frank holds his own with Von. That is a great tenor record!

But- everything Von records you should hear! He's that guy! Check him out, you'll hear something new and fresh always. This man is one of the real ones.

But here's to Mr. Von Freenman on his birthday!
Born on this day in 1923 and one of the assets in jazz and saxophone!

Earle Lavon Freeman Sr. is 89. Happy Birthday Von!! Thank you for all of your inspiration. You've touched all of us deeply sir.

~ Tim Price

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