February 26, 2024

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CD review: George Freeman – The Good Life – 2023: Video, CD cover

George Freeman has been part of jazz for nearly a century. Brother of Von and uncle of Chico Freeman, he’s worked with the greats, such as Charlie Parker and Ben Webster.

Appearing on the recording is legendary organist Joey DeFrancesco, going into the studio just a couple of months before his untimely death. DeFrancesco admired Freeman’s work on a Jimmy McGriff LP so it is quite touching that the two were able to collaborate here.

Also featured on 4 tracks is bass phenom Christian McBride stoking up some swinging performances with Freeman. Drummers Lewis Nash and Carl Allen provide propulsive rhythms throughout.

It must be said, however, that the pulsing heart of the band is Freeman himself, who plays with integrity and enthusiasm and who continues to bring an impressive lifetime of experience to his work.

George Freeman may not have gotten a release under his own name at the time, but while working with Joe Morris he gave us what is arguably the first true rock guitar solo on the blistering Boogie Woogie Joe.

In 2023, at the age of 95, George Freeman has a new album coming out today entitled The Good Life which includes a new version of Lowe Groovin’, an astonishing seventy-five years after the first rendition was recorded and done in a much different way, starting with an almost druggy psychedelic bent to his playing (which is a high compliment) before taking on more sparse jazz characteristics as it goes along. His guitar absolutely shimmers throughout this track, modernizing it in some ways from the Morris recording we’re used to, yet also returning it to what is surely something in line with the jazz combo origins it must’ve had before they put it on record in late 1947.

We don’t take many days off from reviewing old records around here but we’re making an exception o close out the week for a very good cause. I’ve never personally met George Freeman but consider him a cherished friend of the site. It was through him that I was able to get the only picture of Joe Morris’s band that is available anywhere, as well as clarification on some of the particulars of his stint with the outfit.

More than anything though I’m proud of the fact that through this site, even if just in some small way, George Freeman’s contributions to rock ‘n’ roll, short-lived though they may have been by his own choice, finally began getting noticed and properly credited.

Youtube is full of recent shows he’s put on in small clubs around Chicago and those, along with everything contained on The Good Life, prove that his playing is still the epitome of impeccable timing, taste and talent.

There’s a lot diversity found on the small combo cuts, featuring some thundering drumming at times by Lewis Nash and Carl Allen, the rock solid bass of Christian McBride and the wild organ of Joey DeFrancesco in some of his final recordings before his untimely passing last August, all of which give George the perfect platform to remind everyone what a consummate professional he always has been across all genres and styles for more than three quarters of a century.

From the carousel of sounds on Up And Down to the slightly ominous lines Freeman plays on Sister Tankersley that will have you on the edge of your seat and closing with some of his most haunting ethereal playing on the meditative, almost hymn-like, title track, this is a record that washes over you like a warm summer rain while the sun defiantly remains out.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the ongoing history of rock ‘n’ roll music that Spontaneous Lunacy has provided for free over the past six and a half years consisting of 2,100 (and counting) in-depth reviews of records seven decades old – and frankly if you just enjoy good music played exquisitely – then do yourself a favor and buy or stream George Freeman’s brand new release, The Good Life, today.

Of all of the artists we’ve talked about who created this music that you all attest to love, he may be the last man standing, one who is still as vibrant as ever, and there’s no better way to show your appreciation than to help make this release the success it deserves to be.

George Freeman - The Good Life - Amazon.com Music

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