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October 2003

Brad Goode/Von Freeman
Inside Chicago, Volume 3
SteepleChase

Before he left Chicago in 1997 for a professorship at the University of Cincinnati, trumpeter Brad Goode had a weekly gig for 12 years at the Green Mill. His sidemen included some of the city's best and, in some cases, best known, musicians. Premier among them was Von Freeman, the ceaselessly fresh tenor saxophone adventurer who is nearly as old as the Green Mill. In 1993, when this was recorded, Freeman was 70, Goode 30. Goode captured the Wednesday night proceedings with a recorder that, judging by the sound quality here, must have been state of the art. The tapes eventually resulted in a series of albums for Steeplechase, most of them with Freeman. The empathy across generations was inspiring, the contrast in styles striking.

The Volume 3 sidemen are former Woody Herman trombonist Paul McKee, pianist Ron Perrillo, bassist Stewart Miller and drummer Bob Rummage. The repertoire, as in previous volumes, is jazz and popular standards, familiar structures to support a listener's ears. Goode applies his prodigious technique and bebop inclinations in solos striking for their cogency and wit. Lester Young occasionally peers through Freeman's phantasm of squeezed tones, wild intervals and eccentric phrasing, but for the most part Freeman is what he has always been, an original. McKee is a first-rate J.J. Johnson-style trombonist.

The solid rhythm section is in the Chicago tradition; it swings hard. The peak of rhythmic satisfaction comes in "Blue Moon," a song that might be boring if not for Richard Rodgers' surprising changes in the second half of the bridge. All of the soloists make the most of the piece. Rummage, Miller and Perrillo set up a groove that becomes irresistible. None of the other excellent performances on the album quite matches the raucous good feeling of "Blue Moon."

Originally published in October 2003
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