Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Tenor jazz saxophone and clarinet player, band leader, and composer Lawrence "Bud" Freeman, was born on April 13, 1906 in Chicago, Illinois and was known mainly for playing the tenor sasophone.

He had a smooth and full tenor sax style with a heavy robust swing. He was one of the most influential and important jazz tenor saxophonists of the Big Band era. His major recordings were "The Eel", "Tillie's Downtown Now", "Crazeology", "The Buzzard", and "After Awhile", composed with Benny Goodman.

He wanted to be a Shakespearean actor, but instead became one of the first great innovators on tenor sax. He played with swing bands led by Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, but Bud Freeman was happiest leading his own smaller, hot jazz bands.

Listen to recordings of Bud Freeman playing his compositions like “The Eel,” and you can hardly believe that he had little formal musical training. Except for a few basic lessons when he was a kid, his music education consisted of “total immersion” in live jazz performances.

Bud Freeman grew up in the golden age of Chicago jazz. It was the early ‘20s and Freeman fell in with a group of jazz-crazed, white high school students known as the Austin High Gang. A number of them developed into key stylists of Chicago jazz—and one became an icon of the Swing Era. There was Jimmy McPartland, Joe Sullivan, Eddie Condon, Frank Teschemacher, and a very young Benny Goodman.

In 1923, New Orleans masters King Oliver and Louis Armstrong ignited a musical revolution in the clubs and dance halls of the Windy City’s Southside. Bud Freeman and his friends from Austin High spent their weekends absorbing the style and swing of Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band at a club called the Lincoln Gardens. Freeman later said of Oliver’s band, "There was nothing else like it on earth. If you couldn’t dance, it made you dance. We knew we were hearing the real thing."

On Riverwalk Jazz, the award-winning Bay Area actor Jesse Caldwell joined The Jim Cullum Jazz Band to tell Bud Freeman's story with scenes from Freeman's book "Crazeology: The Autobiography of a Chicago Jazzman" written with author Robert Wolf.

Also featured on the broadcast in live performances recorded at The Landing in 2001 is tenor saxophonist and former band member, the late Brian Ogilvie.

Bud passed away on March 1991, in Chicago.

Listen to Bud's jazz sound.

Reference - Riverwalk Jazz

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