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Sound News Volume 85 - Unstoppable George Freeman

Sparrow Sound Design, Southport Records News & Commentary

by J. Pallatto

Hot off the heels of the new CD release from legendary jazz guitarist George Freeman- "George The Bomb!" comes the latest and perhaps greatest gig in the culmination of this journey...

George Freeman and Billy Branch are to headline the 41st annual Chicago Jazz Festival!

Pairing up the ever-young genre-breaking musician George Freeman with the far-reaching blues master Billy Branch for a Southport recording became a musical connection of jazz and blues. Our friend in jazz, Steve Saltzman would attest, as he helped to bring them together for the Jazz Institute of Chicago in 2008 for the 30th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

The bond between George and Billy can be heard in their delightful banter on "Where's The Cornbread?" which is typical of the joy they share as friends.

Of the eleven tracks on "George The Bomb!" are nine new, original songs composed by George Freeman. "Uncle Funky" and "Cha Cha Blue" were created in the studio, on the spot during the recording sessions.

As we assembled the "Southport House Band" of the versatile and rock-steady drummer, Luiz Ewerling and Chicago's unsung hero, John Devlin on electric bass, accordion and vocal, the recording process was easy. Everyone shared the same sense of support and curiosity, a winning combination!

George Freeman has played with all the "greats" - from Charlie Parker, to Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Johnny Griffin, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and his brother Von Freeman, to name only a handful. Jazz History runs deep in his veins, and George Freeman is a royal member of the first family of Chicago Jazz, along with Von, brother Bruz Freeman and Von's son/George's nephew Chico Freeman.

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We'd like to acknowledge the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Jazz Institute of Chicago for presenting George Freeman and Billy Branch at the 41st annual Chicago Jazz Festival!

Special thanks go out to DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly and Frayne Lewis, along with JIC's Heather Ireland Robinson, Adriana Prieto and much-appreciated assist from Lauren Deutsch.

Follow the Chicago Jazz Festival on Facebook

Preview for the 2019 Chicago Jazz Festival by Lloyd Sachs

Produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events | Programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago

Chicago Jazz Festival Schedule – Friday, August 30, 2019 Jay Pritzker Pavilion 4:15–5pm - George Freeman and Billy Branch

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Special thanks go out to our promotions team for the Southport Records CD by George Freeman - "George The Bomb!": Greg Pasenko, Blujazz Greg has been an enormous help in getting the word out to press and radio. It's been such a distinct pleasure working with Greg, as he has a full understanding of running a successful record label and living his life as a musician. Thank you, Greg!


***JAZZ WEEK JAZZ CHART TRACKING – 10 weeks in top 100, peaked 80, 17 weeks in top 200 ***ROOTS MUSIC REPORT – 3 weeks at #5 ***NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY AND COLLEGE RADIO CHART (NACC) – top adds, top 20 ***SATELLITE INTERNATIONAL REAL JAZZ, LUNA, SIRIUS XM – top 20 currently – 11 spins per week ***THE VOICE OF AMERICA/VOA 1 / Jazz America – 19 spins to date, international broadcast ***WFMT Radio Network / Jazz Network - The Jazz Network is the preeminent hosted Jazz music service heard on over 270 outlets nationwide.

MAJOR MARKET RADIO KCSM FM 91 – San Francisco; WDCB – Chicago; Jazz from Gallery 41 – Berkely/SF; Jazz 91.7 KRTU – San Antonio; KBEM-FM – Minneapolis; KCSB-FM – Santa Barbara; WCLK.91.9 FM – Atlanta; WLRN – Miami; KUVO/KVJZ – Denver

PLUS OUR CHICAGO RADIO STATIONS WDCB 90.0fm (Paul Abella, Al Carter-Bey, Jay Greene, Matthew Hermes, Leslie Keros, Bruce Oscar, John Radio Russell, Marshall Vente, Barry Winograd and Dan Bindert & Ken Scott!, ; WRRG 88.9fm (Tom Macek and The Jazz Arena); WNUR 89.3fm (Eric Ricks, Stann Champion, Paul Brown, Daniela Ruiz-International Jazz Show); WLUW 88.7 fm (Live From The Heartland Show with Michael James, Katy Hogan and Thom Clark, Lynn Orman-Weiss, Jake Levy,); WHPK 88.5fm (Al Carter-Bey, Richton Guy Thomas, John Litweiler-Zounds!, Brenda Phillips & Linda Hall)...

and MORE RADIO SUPPORTERS! WWSP 90fm; WUMR 91.7fm; WOWD 94.3fm; WNMC 90.7fm; WICN 90.5fm; WCSF fm; WBLV 90.3fm (Lazaro Vega); KPUP; KMUW (Chris Heim); KFAI & KBEM (Janis Lane-Ewart)...

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Ralph Lampkin, Lampkin Music Group Ralph is a lifelong friend and collaborator in all things music! We've enjoyed and cherished our work together and appreciate your distinct promotional efforts. "A Toast to George Freeman" on April 28th, 2018 at City Winery, Chicago was co-produced by Lampkin Music Group to a packed house!

Lynn Orman-Weiss, Orman Music Media Group Lynn knows the blues and loves the music, the musicians and the venues. She also loves George Freeman! Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 George Freeman received a Resolution from President, Toni Preckwinkle and The Cook County Board of the State of Illinois for his dedication and his musical contributions to Jazz music, recording and his community! This proclamation is part of a salute to “Jazz Music Appreciation Month” and was spearheaded by Lynn Orman-Weiss.

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A special shout out to Mark Freeman, George's nephew. He's always there to help George in so many ways, and shares in the joy and the fun of having such a great uncle!

Special thanks to Al Carter-Bey, "the impressario" for his lifelong friendship with George, and his contributions to the CD statements. George wrote the song "Al Carter-Bey" and you can hear it on Al's radio shifts at WDCB 90.9fm and WHPK 88.5fm.

Thanks to Steve Saltzman for his support and knowledge, and for his historic CD statement on George & Billy. Steve is a conduit for everything jazz, and promotes the youth of today as tomorrow's jazz heroes!

Thanks to our Southport Records production team: Over the years, we couldn't ask for better "ears" than we found in Todd A. Carter. His excellence in recording, editing and mixing and musicality during the sessions for "George The Bomb!" resulted in pro levels and a world class sound! An artist whose work is always meticulous, creative and on-target, Al Brandtner gave the CD design life and verve, such a beautiful CD package!

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Our good friend Rick Kogan honored us with his conversation with George Freeman on the radio at WGN 720 AM on Sunday, April 14, 2019 for his "After Hours with Rick Kogan." Listen Here:

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Our friend Mark Ruffin shows his love for The Freeman Family of Chicago, Bruz, Von, George and Chico Freeman through the years! Thank you, Mark! Mark featured the music of the Freeman family Thursday, April 25th on Sirius XM's Real Jazz channel in honor of Jazz Appreciation and George's 92nd birthday. Since 2007, Mark has been the program director of the Real Jazz channel on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.

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MORE GEORGE! Chicago Tonight repeated last year's story on George Freeman (April 25, 2019) at 7:00 pm. Many thanks to Marc Vitali George Freeman Tells Us How to Lead a Life in Jazz (WTTW) Watch Here:

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Always grateful to Howard Reich, a true George supporter! Guitarist George Freeman celebrates his 92nd at the Green Mill "On Friday night, Chicago guitarist George Freeman will take the stage at the Green Mill Jazz Club to celebrate two remarkable milestones: his 92nd birthday (April 10) and the release of his latest album, “George the Bomb!” (Southport Records). ... Its tracks cast his scorching guitar lines alongside the harmonica wizardry of Chicago blues musician Billy Branch." by Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

AND: Review: Chicago guitar legend George Freeman at 92 - Unstoppable Guitarist George Freeman, 92, performs at the Green Mill Jazz Club on April 12, 2019, in Chicago. "Is it possible for an artist to improve at age 92? If you’re a Chicago jazz guitarist named George Freeman, the answer assuredly is yes." Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

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Mike Jeffers has been enthusiastic about every artist he profiles in Chicago Jazz Magazine, and came up to Southport Studios to interview George Freeman during the recording of "George The Bomb!" one afternoon. His support is ongoing, thanks, Mike! CD Review: George Freeman "George the Bomb" with Billy Branch - April 1, 2019

“…a unique blend of blues and other related genres delivered in a laid back and almost ethereal ambience. Joining him are longtime friends who are among the stalwarts of the Chicago music scene. The warm camaraderie among them gives the album a celebratory feel that is simultaneously enjoyable and satisfying.” Chicago Jazz Magazine, Hrayr Attarian

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MORE REVIEWS!!! "Jazz guitarist, born 1927 so he's edged over 90, leans heavy on funk and blues here, with the Southport house band, with vocals shared by Billy Branch and Joanie Pallatto. Couple of standout food songs: "Where's the Cornbread?" and "Home Grown Tomatoes." B+(**) -Tom Hull, Music Critic, Emeritus

# # # Making A Scene (Richard L’Hommedieu, Publisher) 4/1/19

“There’s no doubt that George Freeman is a living legend. This is one of this year’s best surprises so far.” Making A Scene #1 Independent Music Magazine, Jim Hynes

# # # April 1, 2019 Volume 43/Number 162 Copyright 2019 Midwest Record

"You don't give this guy a pass for being in his 90s. The guitar ace doesn't need a pass. Still standing after standing on the bandstand with Charlie Parker a few years ago, he's just as progressive now as he was then and he's still looking forward. With a contemporary sound behind him that doesn't need to bend the knee to anything, this set is an experiment that works and he's more than a legend as this set easily proves. Another well done outing from the master." -CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher

# # # Dr. Jazz Magazine, Eddy Determeyer, the editor DJM 245, Summer 2019 "Bebop he left for what it is and now plays a mix of blues and mainstream music. ... Home Grown Tomatoes and Al Carter Bey, both with vocal harmonies reminiscent of gospel." by René van Kalken (translated by google from Dutch to English)

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“Chicago native George Freeman takes you to neighborhoods unknown…As bonafide Chicago as a deep disher.!” LA Jazz Weekly, George Harris

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“George Freeman’s new album George The Bomb! is quite an entertaining album on many levels and it will surely bring a smile to the faces of so many jazz and blues guitar fans.” Roots Music Report, Robert Silverstein

# # # Cadence Magazine, July 2019 The Independent Journal of Creative Improvised Music. In publication since 1976.

“I rather enjoyed what has to be George Freeman’s most unique release.” Cadence Magazine, Robert Rusch Robert D. Rusch, Papatamus Column

# # # O's Place Jazz Newsletter George Freeman - George The Bomb! O's Notes: This is classic Chicago blues featuring lead guitarist, composer and vocalist George Freeman, still cooking at 92 years! It's a taste of Chicago blues centered on life. by D. Oscar Groomes

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“George The Bomb! is an accessible blues-oriented set that celebrates the continued playing of the apparently ageless George Freeman." Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists

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