Fire with Von Freeman

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This date features the owner/operators of the Southport label, pianist Bradley-Parker Sparrow and vocalist Joanie Palatto, with their bassist Tatsu Aoki, in a date with Chicago jazz legend Von Freeman and his drummer Michael Raynor. The feel is relaxed, in the groove and full of surprises. This was the first meeting for a lot of these people, and Freeman, who is sued to such encounters, made the most of it. He may not have arranged these tunes, but he plays them like he did. The set opens with a gorgeous vocal number with amazing lyrics by Palatto, "The Thin Line"; it's a slow groover that is somewhat nourish in its construction, and Palatto adds to the sense of desperation with her dramatic (but very tasteful) vocal that highlights that emotion of desolation and desperation. Freeman plays under the beat, and Parker-Sparrow shimmers the melody through the rhythm section. The first third of the disc is rounded out with "The Sparrow," a bebop scat-sung groove vehicle for Parker-Sparrow, with Raynor playing double-time throughout. The other notables here, though there isn't a weak cut on the set, are "Tatsu's Groove," built on a bass riff that is extended by Freeman, and "Mode for Von," which features the tenor player in his most soulful setting here. The disc closes with "Clinton, (George, That Is)," an in-the-pocket greasy funk bit of soul-jazz with an avant-blues twist. Von's always had the funk, but it's amazing that these others do -- except for Raynor who has done his share of B3 dates. But these younger cats add plenty of dimension to the standard 4/4 funk line, particularly Parker-Sparrow's knotty piano lines that open up with a subtle chromaticism before turning knotty and dark and modal. It's a hot set, and an example of how fine the music coming out of Chicago is right now.

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