Mr. Freeman, always beautifully attired:
Bud Freeman, who made the long journey from being an Austin High School boy, earnest and enthusiastic, to an elder of the tribe, always remaining himself. But he has not received the same attention — with the exception of Loren Schoenberg and Dick Sudhalter — that his singular talent deserved, almost as if there were just too many tenor saxophone stylists for the writers to keep track of, so they focused on Lester and Hawkins, Ben and Byas and few others. Bud’s music was both intellectual and impassioned: you could trace his scalar patterns on graph paper, but he was also busily swinging and surprising the listener. He also kept some of that boyishness in his buoyant playing, those lines that bobbed and weaved, never predictably. I offer here a late example — Bud was eighty-two in this performance, but this is not an old man’s tentative music. And to an attentive listener, it is quite sophisticated, beautifully, whimsically alive.
Here he is, recorded live at the Manassas Jazz Festival (thanks to Joe Shepherd for this keepsake) with Johnson McRee as M.C., Johnny Mince, clarinet; Al Stevens, piano; Marty Grosz, guitar; Johnny Williams, string bass; Johnny Blowers, drums After McRee’s introduction and some before-set milling around, there’s LADY BE GOOD / a story about shooting craps and playing cards / I FOUND A NEW BABY / I GOT RHYTHM / Marty tells a now-offensive joke and Bud recites a few lines of Shakespeare / CRAZY RHYTHM //
I’ve noted that Bud was 82, Johnny, 76, Blowers, 87 (!), Williams, 80, Marty (the Youngblood then, ninety now) 58. I don’t know Al Stevens’ birthdate, but he looks less venerable. Durable fellows, all.
I will offer another half-hour set of Bud and friends shortly. But study this one, without preconceptions, please.
May your happiness increase!