Posted by themusicsover on August 11, 2012
Earle “Von” Freeman
October 3, 1923 – August 11, 2012
Von Freeman was an influential jazz saxophonist who was revered the world over by fans of hard bop. Even though his skills matched that of say, John Coltrane, Freeman never enjoyed the commercial success of the jazz titans beside whom he could easily stand. This was perhaps by design. When once called by Miles Davis to replace Coltrane, Freeman respectfully declined. After serving in the Navy – and playing in the Navy Band – during WWII, Freeman settled back in his hometown of Chicago where he and his brother, George Freeman, backed national acts when the toured through town. That list includes Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Freeman also played in Sun Ra’s band during the early ’50s. In 1972, he began making his own albums, most of which were critical favorites. Even though his early records showcased a musical genius that was beyond most, it wasn’t until later releases, like 2004′s The Great Divide, that Freeman achieved some commercial success. He did, however, receive one of music’s highest honors, a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Von Freeman was 88 when he died of heart failure on August 11, 2012.