Freeman, George

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Freeman, George

Freeman, George, American jazz musician; b. Chicago, 111., April 10, 1927. Another talented member of the musical Freeman family of Chicago, he is a soulful but somewhat idiosyncratic player whose recordings have been infrequent. He was inspired to play guitar after witnessing a performance by T-Bone Walker at a Chicago club in the 1940s and by guitarists Charlie Christian, Oscar Moore, and Wes Montgomery, his strongest influences came from non-guitarists—Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, and his saxophonist brother, Von. Freeman was first recorded while backing Parker on a live date released on Savoy. From the late 1940s through the 1950s he backed a series of R&B stars, including Joe Morris, Sil Austin, and Jackie Wilson, before hooking up with “Groove” Holmes in the 1960s. He has since been most often heard in soul-jazz settings, working extensively with Gene Ammons in the late 1960s (Freeman appeared on a few of Ammons’s late 1960s Prestige LPs) and with Jimmy McGriff in the early 1970s. He recorded his debut as a leader for Delmark in 1969, an LP for Sonny Lester’s Groove Merchant label in 1974 called New Improved Funk, and finally resurfaced on CD in the 1990s with a session for Chicago’s Southport label. A unique player who has kept his ears wide open to post-bop developments, Freeman exhibits a unique penchant for sprawling rapid-fire lines of notes with unexpected turns.

Discography

The Groover (1968); Birth Sign (1972); Rebellion (1995); Funkiest Little Band in the Land (1996).

—Dan Bindert