Album Details

September 15, 1998
Giants of Jazz Recordings
Jazz, Swing

Album Review

Saxophonist Bud Freeman (1906-1981) was the fundamentally friendly swing tenor from Chicago. A cardinal member of the Eddie Condon mob, he came to personify good times and toe-tappin' entertainment. Freeman was a sensitive balladeer with a soft, warm, butter-smooth tone. He could also cut loose and swing like a madman; both extremes were prerequisites, more or less, for inclusion in Condon's extended family of old-fashioned jazz players, as was Bud's highly developed sense of humor. Most people who are aware of Bud Freeman smile involuntarily whenever his name comes up. There are several excellent Freeman compilations in existence; this Giants of Jazz sampler of precious sides recorded between 1928 and 1939 might actually be one of the very best. Bud is heard leading a sextet in the company of Bunny Berigan and Claude Thornhill in 1935; he bubbles and cavorts at the helm of a hot little trio with Jess Stacy and George Wettling, and stands shoulder to shoulder with Bobby Hackett and Pee Wee Russell in an eight-piece group that helped to establish the standard for jazz issued on the Commodore label before, during, and after the Second World War. You'll want to be sure to listen for Bud's clarinet on "The Buzzard" and "Tillie's Downtown Now." One of the earliest recordings is "Crazeology," a strangely wonderful expansion of "Crazy Rhythm," which was one of the most popular songs of 1928. (Nobody tampered with "Crazy Rhythm" to this extent until 1953, when Django Reinhardt reinvented the song as a quirky, harmonically inverted experiment in cool and mysterious modernity.) Every single track is superb. Bud's bouncing presence makes each of the upbeat numbers glow like a room full of dancing, laughing will-o'-the-wisps, stuffing themselves with currant tarts and mulled wine. Nothing sounds more optimistic and reassuring than "The Blue Room," "At Sundown," "My Honey's Lovin' Arms," and especially "You Took Advantage of Me," with its disarmingly funny surprise ending. Bud Freeman's ballad playing is unforgettably gorgeous and mesmerizing. "(I Got a Woman, Crazy for Me) She's Funny That Way," a positively charmed duet with pianist Jess Stacy, is powerfully subtle, intimate, and intoxicating.
arwulf arwulf, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Exactly Like You
  2. Three Little Words
  3. Swingin' Without Mezz
  4. The Blue Room
  5. Life Spears a Jitterbug [Take 2]
  6. Memories of You
  7. Tappin' the Commodore Till
  8. What's the Use?
  9. At Sundown
  10. My Honey's Lovin' Arms
  11. I Don't Believe It
  12. Keep Smiling at Trouble
  13. What Is There to Say?
  14. The Buzzard
  15. Tillie's Downtown Now
  16. I Got Rhythm
  17. Three's No Crowd
  18. You Took Advantage of Me
  19. Crazeology
  20. Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
  21. (I Got a Woman, Crazy for Me) She's Funny That Way