George Freeman 90th Birthday Celebration

Aug 31
6:30 pm
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

George Freeman may not be venerated to the degree his departed brother, tenor saxophonist Von, was – and is. But neither did the beloved Vonski have people shaking their head in amazement the way they frequently do over George’s ability to coax utterly unique sounds from his electric guitar. At 90, more than a half-century removed from performances with the likes of Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins, he may be craftier than ever.

Just ask Mike Allemana, his exceptional guitar partner of recent years (and Von’s longtime music director). “He’s one of a kind,” said Allemana, who as an ethnomusicologist as well as a bandmate has looked deep into the Freeman family magic. No amount of research, however, can solve the mysteries of George. Who would have expected him to be idolized after a long period of obscurity in England, where the slippery harmonies and bumptious grooves of his ’70s soul-jazz recordings were pillaged by the mid-’80s acid jazz movement? Who could have expected his career to peak in the twilight of his life? He certainly didn’t: “I didn’t ask for it – it just happened,” he told JazzTimes.

On this occasion, Freeman and Allemana will perform in a churning quartet featuring organist Pete Benson, known for his work in Sabertooth, the Green Mill’s prized after hours band, and drummer Mike Schlick, who led his trio at last year’s Chicago Jazz Festival. Expect nothing less than a major happening when he celebrates the big 9-0 before a throng of adoring fans.

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