The Great Divide

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Premonition
PERFORMER: Von Freeman
CATALOGUE NO: KOC-CD-5743

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Von Freeman is roots music all by himself. The grand old man of ‘modern’ Chicago jazz was 80-years-old when he made The Great Divide. The surprise is that he still sounds so fresh, his tenor saxophone solos rippling with unhackneyed turns, sudden spins on a rhythmical dime, honks and hollers and then a rhapsodic, caressing phrase to kid you into thinking he’s gone soft.

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He is joined by a team of veterans – Jimmy Cobb, Richard Wyands and John Webber – whose playing might be solicitous except that Von doesn’t need mollycoddling. He hasn’t made all that many records – this is his 21st album, and he didn’t start until he was 49! – and there are tracks here to stand with the best of anything he’s set down before, including a lovely ‘This Is Always’ and a gorgeous meditation on Lester Young’s way with a blues, ‘Blue Lester’ – which reminds us that here is a man who knew and played with both Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, the original tenor masters.