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Congratulations Von

To be named one of
the last NEA Jazz Masters

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Von Freeman at the New Apartment Lounge

One of the many great musicians Chicago has produced, Von Freeman didn't record an album under his name until he was nearly 50.

Now an octogenarian,"Vonski" is to be honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a Jazz Master joining fellow Chicagoans Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Ramsey Lewis, and Muhal Richard Abrams.

A graduate of the legendary music program run by Captain Walter Dyett at DuSable High School, he began playing professionally at age 16.

After returning to Chicago after World War II, he played with his brothers George Freeman on guitar and Bruz (Eldridge) on drums at the Pershing Hotel Ballroom backing visiting jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie. In the early 1950s, Von played in Sun Ra's band.

It was not until 1972 that Freeman first recorded under his own name, the album Doin' It Right Now. His next album was a marathon session in 1975 released over 2 albums by Nessa. Since then he has lived, played regularly and recorded in Chicago, his recordings including 3 albums with his son, the tenor sax player Chico Freeman and You Talkin' To Me with 22-year old saxophonist Frank Catalano, following their successful appearance at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 1999.

Freeman is considered a founder of the "Chicago School" of jazz tenorists along with Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin and Clifford Jordan.

You can catch Von Tuesday nights at the New Apartment Lounge in Chicago's South Side where this short clip was filmed.

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