Chico Freeman

Pied Piper

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The first of two Chico Freeman recordings for the soon-defunct Black-Hawk label finds the leader switching between tenor, alto, sopranino, soprano, bass clarinet, bass flute and C flute. John Purcell "only" limits himself to five reeds (alto, baritone, oboe, alto flute and piccolo), and the horns are joined by either Kenny Kirkland or Mark Thompson on piano, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Elvin Jones. The many combinations of reeds highlight this set, which has originals by Freeman, Mark Thompson ("Monk 2000"), John Stubblefield, Alex North and Cecil McBee ("Blues on the Bottom"), in addition to the standard "Softly As In a Morning Sunrise." The style ranges from straight-ahead to more exploratory sounds, and this colorful album is worth searching for.