June 14, 2024

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CD review: George Freeman – Everybody Say Yeah! 2022: Video, CD cover

It took a long time (much too long) for listeners to recognize the brilliance that was Chicago saxophonist Fred Anderson. The New York-centric jazz cognoscenti have often overlooked talent that comes from Chicago, and artists were often drawn to The Big Apple to seek the recognition they deserved.

Beginning in the ’90s, though, the focal point of creative music shifted to Chicago and veteran musicians such as Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, and Harrison Bankhead, plus (then) younger talents, Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis, and Hamid Drake garnered critical attention. That attention paved the way for newer Chicago talents such as Dustin Laurenzi, Katie Ernst, Nick Mazzarella,Quin Kirchner, and Matt Ulery.

Everybody Say Yeah! unveils another discovery, guitarist George Freeman, a star hidden in plain sight. Brother to Von and Eldridge “Bruz” Freeman and uncle to Chico Freeman, George is a living history of modern jazz. He has performed with everyone from Lester Young to Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, and John Coltrane, and recorded with Charlie Parker, Jimmy McGriff, Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons, and a list of others too long to fit into this review. This album is a retrospective of his Southport years, from 1995 to 2021, and comes on the occasion of this 95th birthday on April 10th 2022. The remastered music includes two unreleased tracks “Summertime” with vocals by Joanie Pallatto and “Manteca,” plus a new recording of his composition “Perfume” in duo with guitarist Mike Allemana.

The fourteen tracks are all prime cuts. Opening with “Peak,” a rump-shaking party piece, Freeman vocalizes over the affair as he delivers solid soul jazz. His guitar voice is both articulate and bluesy. “My Scenery,” a ballad which features Chico Freeman with Harrison Bankhead and Hamid Drake, walks in like Carl Sandburg’s fog on little cat’s feet. The guitarist adores Latin themes; “It’s Cha Time!,” “Cha Cha Time,” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” feature his guitar as the calm in the eye of a percussion hurricane. Guest soloists include Von Freeman on “Vonski,” Tatsu Aoki on “Low Funk,” John Devlin on “Gorgeous George,” and the aforementioned Joanie Pallatto’s vocals on a luxurious rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

George Freeman, guitar; Mike Allemana, electric guitar; Ruben Alvarez, congas and timbales; Tatsu Aoki, acoustic bass; Harrison Bankhead, acoustic bass; Billy Branch, harmonica; Kirk Brown, piano; John Devlin, electric bass and accordion; Hamid Drake, drums; Luiz Ewerling, drums and percussion; Chico Freeman, tenor sax and soprano sax; Von Freeman, tenor sax and piano; Lou Gregory, piano; Joe Jenkins, drums; Joanie Pallatto, vocal; Penny Pendleton, acoustic bass; Alejo Poveda, drums; Michael Raynor, drums; Phil Thomas, drums; and Eldee Young, acoustic bass.

1. Peak (feat. Alejo Poveda & Ruben Alvarez)
2. There Will Never Be Another You
3. My Scenery (feat. Chico Freeman)
4. It’s Cha Time! (feat. Eldee Young)
5. Summertime (feat. Joanie Pallatto)
6. George Burns!
7. Gorgeous George (feat. John Devlin)
8. Vonski (feat. Von Freeman)
9. Cha Cha Blue (feat. Billy Branch)
10. Manteca
11. Perfume (feat. Mike Allemana)
12. A Mother’s Love
13. Marko (feat. Harrison Bankhead)
14. Low Funk (feat. Tatsu Aoki)

George Freeman - Everybody Say Yeah! - Amazon.com Music

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