Von Freeman: Live at the Dakota
Given the legend status Von freeman has acquired—in Chicago, at least—a quick look at his discography shows how poorly the great tenor's career has been documented. In this regard, "Live at the Dakota" is a significant recording because it does him justice and is fully representative of his playing.
Caught in the Twin Cities with a local rhythm section (Bobby Peterson (p), Larry Burns (b) and Phil Hey (d)), "Vonski" is featured in varied contexts, including an unaccompanied reading of "My Little Brown Book". He demonstrates how he has constantly remained attuned to new developments in jazz while keeping his music rooted in the tradition.
If all the selections are top-shelf, the highlights of this session are "Caravan" and "Footprints." Both pieces here get a facelift. On the former, the theme is introduced at a slow pace before the band goes full speed. Each musician is featured and has the opportunity to develop his ideas. Pianist Bobby Peterson's solo is a gem, full of original patterns and making clever use of dissonance.
As for Wayne Shorter's composition, it is played on a slow tempo for the most part and given a mysterious aura. Von Freeman's playing is full of contrasts bursting into his characteristic wails when it is least expected. This rendition is by itself worth the price of admission.
The rhythm section is impeccable and certainly deserves more recognition. Bobby Peterson could very well be the ideal pianist for Von Freeman with his spare and pertinent accompaniment and excellent timing.
"Live at the Dakota" is the perfect place to start for anyone who wants to get acquainted with Von Freeman's work.—Alain Drouot
Available on Premonition Records at www.premonitionandmusic.com