Von Freeman (born October 3, 1922 Earl Lavon Freeman) is a elder Chicago tenor saxophone
player. He got his start at the age of 16 when he played tenor in Horace Henderson
's big band
He was drafted into the Navy during WWII
and on his return to Chicago he played with his brothers George on guitar and Bruz (Eldrige) on drums at the Pershing Hotel Ballroom. During this time many national jazz giants, such as Charlie Parker
, Roy Eldridge
and Dizzy Gillespie
played in Chicago and would use Freeman in their backing bands (it was too expensive to have your own touring band - so artists picked up local musicians at each stop).
In the early 50s Von played in Sun Ra
's band. Freeman was not a prolific studio musician, his first session work was for the Ping label and Vee Jay
Records in the late 50s.
It was in 1972 that Freeman recorded under his own name for the first time with the support of Roland Kirk
. Since then his recordings have included 3 albums with his son, the tenorist Chico Freeman
Freeman still lives in Chicago and can be caught playing live there on a regular basis. I have personally seen his jam sessions on the South Side
at the super cool New Apartment Lounge
. He will turn 80 this year.
The only record of his I have is called Live at the Dakota
. Culled from 2 shows in St. Paul
1996, Freeman´s raspy soulful tenor is so delicious that it makes you want to play the record over and over again.
jazz critic Howard Reich says, "...For technical brilliance, musical intellect, harmonic sophistication and improvisatory freedom, Von Freeman has few bebop-era peers."