Here’s an important and wonderful reissue by Coleman Hawkins’ first great tenor sax rival-before Lester Young, that is. In fact, Bud Freeman shares some of Pres’ best virtues: a gift for creating flowing melodies, a deep strain of blues and a special, immensely poised kind of swing, which as a youthful Chicagoan he absorbed from early New Orleans men, especially Louis Armstrong. By Freeman’s 1960 All-Stars (featured on more than half of this CD) he projects one of the most distinctive sounds in jazz: big, muscular, yet tapered and singing, always in his lower register, with an extraordinarily wide and even vibrato. This early-swing stylist accents the strong beats and there’s much rhythmic variety in his phrasing. After trumpeter Shorty Baker solos rather delicately in theme variations and decorations, the hard-swinging Freeman improvises lovely new songs on the changes (“S’posin’,” “Love Me or Leave Me”) or swaggers with rolling phrases that evolve into sustained lines (“Shorty’s Blues,” “But Not for Me”); he turns gruff, with barking phrases, on the minor blues “March On, March On.” This is certainly a major artist at his mid-career best; the other All-Stars are pianist Claude Hopkins, bassist George Duvivier and drummer J.C. Heard.
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