Glenn Spearman's premature death from cancer in 1998 was a tragic loss for avant-garde jazz. Although not a huge name in the jazz world, Spearman was an expressive tenor saxman who played with a lot of passion. The Californian's integrity shines through on Free Worlds, a posthumous release that focuses on some sessions he led in the Bay Area in 1994 and 1995. Sometimes reflective, sometimes forceful, and always uncompromising, this CD reminds us how honest a player Spearman was. Spearman played what he felt, and on Free Worlds what he feels is very abstract, angular, and left-of-center. The least outside pieces on Free Worlds are "Pipes, Spirit & Bronze" and the traditional "Raga Shamwati," which employs Indian singers and tabla drums and puts an eccentric spin on raga playing. But as appealing as Spearman's explorations are, Free Worlds isn't for everyone. While those who believe that hard bop is the only form of jazz that has a right to exist would do well to look elsewhere, Free Worlds is recommended to those with a taste for free jazz and the avant-garde.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson