Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Four and a half stars -- the spirit is strong
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 01/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Penguin's guide to jazz on CD correctly notes that Freeman was among the first of the avant-garde-leaning players who followed the "New Thing" wave of the '60s to fully embrace the need for tradition and structure. He was -- and remains -- fully capable of pushing the limits of his instrument , particularly on bass clarinet and tenor, but he's also a highly lyrical player and a superb interpreter of ballads. These qualities are strongly displayed in "Spirit Sensitive."I have the original vinyl, which included six cuts, but I sprung for the CD reissue in order to get the four extra cuts, and it was worth it, particularly for two Coltrane originals Freeman performs (more on those in a minute.)The album was recorded in 1979 when Freeman was in his 20s, so it's all the more surprising how gentle the sound on this release is, particularly if you are familiar with some of his fiery work from around this period with bassist Cecil McBee (who also appears here.) From the opening "Autumn in New York" through "You Don't Have to Say You're Sorry," "It Never Entered My Mind," "Close to You Alone" and a superb reading of Horace Silver's "Peace," Freeman renders his material with care, staying close to melody and mood rather than technical showmanship.Freeman best shows his power on interpretations of two Coltrane tunes, "Lonnie's Lament" and "Wise One." These were two of Coltrane's most introspective compositions and Chico retains their dark colors, but on "Lonnie's Lament," he turns loose on saxophone in a way that Coltrane himself did not on the original. It's a spirited and spirit-filled performance.John Hicks' piano is a strong plus on "Spirit Sensitive," particularly on the ballads. His lyricism matches Freeman's and he is an attentive accompanist.The half-star deduction comes about from the drumming. Billy Hart is obviously a fine drummer, but he didn't sound to me in top form on this album. Specifically, he plays a bit "busy" on the ballads; the two-song sequence of "Close to You Alone" and "It Never Entered My Mind" features superb interplay between Freeman and Hicks, but Billy fills up a lot of the space with more work than I thought was necessary, and it gets a little intrusive. By contrast, Don Moye appears on the last two cuts and fares much better, in my opinion, with molding his sound to the rest of the band's.Although he is a restless spirit who occasionally records a date that doesn't quite connect, Freeman has continued to turn out fine work since this date. "Spirit Sensitive" is an important document of the development of a key modern jazz player."