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Chico Freeman Remembers Von Freeman

Oct. 3, 1923-Aug. 11, 2012

Von Freeman painted by vocalist Solitaire Miles

I first met Von Freeman on July 17, 1949 in Chicago. At first glance I didn’t know who he was, what he had accomplished or, more important, what he would eventually mean to so many people. In the years to come I would listen to him practice for hours upon hours, still not realizing how original his sound was or what great distance his artistry would travel. In fact, it wouldn’t be until August of 2012, listening to the testimonials at his memorial in Chicago, that I’d truly comprehend the scope of his influence on musicians and non-musicians alike.

Von Freeman was the architect of a sound that was at once a painful cry and a joyful shout. His sound reached deep inside one’s soul and attempted to communicate in the deep recesses of one’s spirit. It originated from the well of experiences, suffering and happiness that he lived and witnessed, and was inspired by the emotions and lives of his own heroes’ trials and tribulations. In his sound and phrasing you could hear the complete history of the saxophone in jazz. He took that complete expression to new heights and fashioned it into his own original exclamation.

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