Listening Booth

Celebrating George Freeman

Dorian’s is proud to present one of Chicago’s elder statesmen and illustrious Jazz luminary George Freeman on Saturday, April 27. Still ever-youthful at 92 and fresh off his birthday celebration April 10 at Chicago institution Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. Shout out Green Mill. George keeps playing around town and still practices his distinctive guitar style daily besides releasing new material. His quite recent 2019 Southport Records release “The Bomb!” (April 2019) finds George in great form showcasing new material that traces his roots back to the blues, with special guest and three time Grammy nominee Billy Branch on harp and vocals. He is one of the few remaining living musicians who recorded with Charlie Parker (“An Evening In Chicago” Savoy, 1950) besides being a member of a sextet led by jazz legends Johnny Griffin and Joe Morris. In the mid-1950s, George started a long association with organist Richard “Groove” Holmes, appearing as sideman and song contributor on Holmes’ World Pacific and Prestige. After touring with Gene Ammons and Shirley Scott, Freeman decided against any more road work and has been based in Chicago. Many of George’s solo records are sought after treasures by crate diggin’ collectors and DJs worldwide. His track “The Bump” (released on Franticdiagnosis Records in 1972) has been sampled by The Wiseguys with the original LP fetching over $150 today. The track was later re-released on Ubiquity Records’ “Can’t Get Enough” collection. He is the brother of late and great tenor saxophonist Von Freeman and drummer Eldridge “Bruz” Freeman and the uncle of saxophonist Chico Freeman. George and Von collaborated frequently throughout their careers. Other musicians he has worked with include Ben Webster, Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Criss, Charles Earland, Jimmy McGriff, Les McCann, Eldee Young, Harold Mabern, Kenny Barron, Bob Cranshaw, Buddy Williams, Kurt Elling, Red Holloway, Corey Wilkes, Ernest Dawkins, Mike Allemana and the Deep Blue Organ Trio. George will be joined by Vince Willis (keyboards), Kevin Patrick (drums), Jack Zara (bass) and Lorna Boston on vocals.

Rare Finds

Leo’s Sunshipp – We Need Each Other. Released in 1978 on Lyon’s Records.

Inscribed on the back cover:
To live and breathe isn’t living it’s life
To learn the truth and live is living
The riches of all
by Alvin Few

“Leo’s Sunshipp is one of those remarkable one-offs that pepper R&B history. The group’s name sounds far more cosmic than it is. Those expecting a P-Funk rollercoaster ride will be sorely disappointed, as this is more a glide down the jazzy, soulful byways of mid-70s Leon Ware or Marvin Gaye. The group was so named because all three of its main protagonists – Kenny Stover, Johnny Simone and Alvin Few – were born between 22 July and 22 August, in the star sign of Leo. It was the 70s, after all. The group’s Marvin Gaye feel ran deeper than mere admiration; Stover and Simone had been backing vocalists for Gaye, for whom Stover’s brother, Elgie, had a long-standing working relationship. Hooking up with Few, Leo’s Sunshipp began to record an album, of which four tracks were completed before, tragically, lead vocalist Simone fell ill and died. Stover blocked the album’s release and moved on to sing with Finished Touch. And that could have been it, until Lyons Records took the four tracks, added four instrumental/alternate mixes and We Need Each Other, the group’s only release, came into being” – Daryl Easlie