Chicago's tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman (1949) staged one of the most blatant
betrayal of the original spirit of "creative" music when he turned to
the "new traditionalist" style after contributing to the avantgarde with
several cutting-edge records.
Freeman's first appeared on the second album of "creative" bassist
Kestutis Stanciauskas' group Streetdancer, Rising (april 1975).
Freeman's own debut album, Morning Prayer (september 1976), featured a "creative" septet (Freeman on tenor, soprano, flute and pan-pipe, Henry Threadgill on alto, baritone and flute, Douglas Ewart on flute, Muhal Richard Abrams on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, Steve McCall and Ben Montgomery on percussion) stretching out on extended Freeman originals such as Morning Prayer, Pepe's Samba and Like The Kind Of Peace It Is.
Chico (1977) was mostly taken up by the 24-minute three-movement suite Moments, a duet with bassist Cecil McBee, and the 16-minute jam Merger, for a piano-based quintet (McBee, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, drummer Steve McCall, percussionist Tito Sampa).
No Time Left (june 1977) featured a quartet with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, bassist Rick Rozie and drummer Don Moye (and himself on tenor, soprano and bass clarinet) exploring the relationship between the traditional jazz quartet and the avantgarde jazz quartet in the 18-minute No Time Left and the 12-minute Uhmla.
The regression towards traditional jazz picked up steam on the much less challenging Beyond the Rain (june 1977), for a quintet with drummer Elvin Jones and pianist Hilton Ruiz.
Kings of Mali (september 1977), perhaps the best of the early days, featured a stellar quintet with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Don Moye performing four lengthy Freeman originals.
The Outside Within (1978), whose centerpiece was McBee's 19-minute Undercurrent, but also included Freeman's The Search, featured a quartet with McBee, pianist John Hicks and drummer Jack DeJohnette.
Spirit Sensitive (october 1978) wasted a quartet with Hicks, McBee and Moye on a collection of jazz ballads.
The interaction between color and melody was the theme of Peaceful Heart Gentle Spirit (march 1980) for a rich chamber octet (flutist James Newton, pianist Kenny Kirkland, vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, cello, bass, two percussionists, and Freeman on tenor sax, flute and clarinet), including some old compositions besides the new Peaceful Heart Gentle Spirit and Nina's Song Dance.
Freeman adopted the "new traditionalist" stance in earnest for
The Search (june 1980), with McBee, Hoggard, pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Billy Hart, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and vocalist Val Eley,
Destiny's Dance (october 1981), highlighted by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson,
Tradition in Transition (september 1982),
Tangents (january 1984), with vocalist Bobby McFerrin, reed player John Purcell and altoist Steve Coleman,
The Pied Piper (september 1984), again with Purcell on reeds and Elvin Jones,
all albums full of covers turned into ridiculous muzak for yuppies.
Freeman also formed the Leaders, a supergroup with
trumpeter Lester Bowie,
alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe,
pianist Kirk Lightsey, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Don Moye, that
recorded the mediocre
Mudfoot (june 1986) with Freedom Swing Song and Midnite Train,
Out Here Like This (february 1987), Heaven Dance (may 1988),
and Unforeseen Blessings (december 1988).
Lord Riff And Me (october 1987) featured a quintet with
pianist George Cables, Cecil McBee (bass), Billy Hart (drums).
The four-saxophone septet Roots (including Nathan Davis, Arthur Blythe and Sam Rivers on saxophones and Don Pullen on piano) debuted with
Salutes the Saxophone (october 1991) and Stablemates (december 1992).
Freeman pursued a fusion of pop-jazz, world-music and hip hop with Brainstorm, that released Mystical Dreamer (may 1989), Sweet Explosion (april 1990) and Threshold (1993),
and with Guataca, that debuted on Oh By the Way (2001).
Best of the 1990s was perhaps Focus (may 1994), with To Hear a Tear, Drop in the Rain, for a quintet with Blythe on alto and George Cables on piano.
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