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Von Freeman: Fire With Von Freeman

Chicago tenor titan Von Freeman is joined on this date by pianist Bradley Parker-Sparrow, bassist Tatsu Aoki, drummer Michael Raynor and vocalist Joanie Pallato performing ten tracks that mostly feature the kind of free-wheeling musical give-and-take found in the music of the mid- to late ’60s. Freeman’s deep, broad tone and Coltranish dexterity are given their best hearing on the moody Bartok-inspired “Night Music,” the tympani-tinged “Mode For John,” and the conversational “Tatsu’s Groove.” The tracks featuring Pallato’s vocalese, including the “The Thin Line,” “Michael’s Choice,” “A Sparrow,” “Blank White Page,” distract from the rhythm section’s moods and grooves and “Clinton (George, That Is)” unsuccessfully tries to marry the avant garde to P-Funk via sampling.

While Freeman’s majestic presence makes this recording worthwhile, a project with more thematic cohesion would be the best tribute to this under-recorded genius.

Originally Published