Phil Freeman

Read more from Phil Freeman

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – September 2020

We lost two major jazz voices this month. Bassist Gary Peacock died September 4th at 85. He was one of those players whose experience spans…
Phil Freeman | September 21, 2020 - 12:55 pm

Sounding Board

You Had To Be There: The Weirdo Alternative Of Ritual De Lo Habitual 30 Years Later

Jane’s Addiction might be the ultimate "you had to be there" band. If you weren’t somewhere between 16 and 20 in 1988-90, their music is…
Phil Freeman | August 21, 2020 - 2:29 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – August 2020

Free jazz is often seen as an old man’s music; even players considered part of the new generation seem to be going gray. Pianist Matthew…
Phil Freeman | August 20, 2020 - 11:55 am

The Anniversary

“Who Let The Dogs Out” Turns 20

The Baha Men’s "Who Let The Dogs Out" has existed for 20 years. There are adults of voting age who have never lived on a…
Phil Freeman | July 24, 2020 - 12:00 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – July 2020

Motown Records famously had a finishing school, run by Maxine Powell, where their artists were taught how to smile, how to dress, how to move…
Phil Freeman | July 21, 2020 - 2:02 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – June 2020

Ten years ago, Darius Jones flew across the New York jazz scene like a comet. His debut album as a leader, Man’ish Boy (A Raw
Phil Freeman | June 19, 2020 - 2:52 pm

The Anniversary

Mer De Noms Turns 20

I had no idea who A Perfect Circle were the first time I heard them. I was at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2000,…
Phil Freeman | May 22, 2020 - 11:45 am

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – May 2020

It’s easy to get comfortable with your idea of what jazz is, when it’s happening right in front of you. But when there are no…
Phil Freeman | May 20, 2020 - 12:08 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – April 2020

Since my last column, there has been a wave of deaths in the jazz world, many of them related to COVID-19. Here are the ones…
Phil Freeman | April 21, 2020 - 9:45 am

Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: Thundercat It Is What It Is

People don’t talk about George Duke enough. The man was a goddamn genius. After leading his own group for a few years, he began playing…
Phil Freeman | March 30, 2020 - 12:20 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – March 2020

I had planned for this intro section to be slightly longer, but you know what? I’m not willing to risk my life for you people.
Phil Freeman | March 20, 2020 - 12:01 pm

Ugly Beauty

The Month In Jazz – February 2020

If you ever get the chance to watch Tyshawn Sorey play the drums, take it. Sorey is a brilliant composer — his albums Koan, The
Phil Freeman | February 20, 2020 - 3:22 pm

Ugly Beauty

Ugly Beauty: The Month In Jazz – January 2020

Has Winter Jazzfest peaked? When I was out exploring the annual weekend marathon (105 performances spread across 11 venues), it felt significantly less manic and…
Phil Freeman | January 20, 2020 - 1:19 pm

Ugly Beauty

The 20 Best Jazz Albums Of The 2010s

Where jazz is concerned, the 2010s could be divided almost precisely in half: BK (Before Kamasi) and AK (After Kamasi). The burly LA saxophonist's triple…
Phil Freeman | January 9, 2020 - 8:53 am

Ugly Beauty

Ugly Beauty: The Month In Jazz – December 2019

Henry Threadgill, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2015 album In For A Penny, In For A Pound, has reunited his band Zooid after…
Phil Freeman | December 20, 2019 - 11:10 am

Comments from Phil Freeman

Yeah, it really is great; unfortunately, I couldn't write it up for the column because my wife designed the cover. (Might find a sub to write it up for next month, though...we'll see how packed the list is.)
0 |
September 24, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – September 2020
Yeah, it's really, really good and I need to point out that if you buy it on his Bandcamp page you get a total of 14 tracks (the physical CD only has 9).
+6 |
September 21, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – September 2020
Roots Magic are amazing. I sometimes wonder whether people give them the side-eye because they're a bunch of Italians "covering" free jazz and Delta blues tunes, but they really do make the material their own. I love all three of their albums.
+1 |
August 21, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – August 2020
Yeah, that one is definitely recommended to fans of all the acts you mentioned and maybe Hot Rats/Grand Wazoo-era Zappa, too. Really good stuff. I've been a fan of hers for a long while.
+2 |
August 20, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – August 2020
I get that projecting an image of wealth and luxury is crucial in a lot of hip-hop, but referencing *gout* is kind of a weird choice.
+6 |
August 14, 2020 on Nas – “Ultra Black”
I ranked all of Yes's albums here a few years ago: https://www.stereogum.com/1802728/yes-albums-from-worst-to-best/franchises/list/ Here's (part of) what I had to say about 90125: >>Musically, 90125 (named for its catalog number) is incredibly, gleamingly '80s. Howe's galloping prog boogie is completely absent, as is Squire's thunderous bass; the dominant instrumental voices are Rabin's high-gloss guitar and Kaye's bell-like synths, while Anderson's vocals are soaked in reverb and echo. This is a big album -- the stomping "Hold On" sounds like it's being blared at you through a stadium PA, while "Our Song" sounds like a training montage from a Rocky sequel. The most fascinating elements of the album, though, are those that are most obviously Trevor Horn's doing. "Leave It," one of the big singles from the album, is stacked with massive drum machine thwacks and some of the very same Fairlight stabs that would pop up on Art Of Noise singles a year later. They're present to a lesser extent in "City Of Love," too, decorations at the margins of as dense a slab of corporate "hard" "rock" as has ever been recorded. 90125 is as un-Yes-like as it's possible to be; it's much more reminiscent of 1980s "supergroup" projects like the Firm and the Power Station than anything its members had done before. But approached in that spirit, it's fascinatingly bizarre, and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" remains a kick-ass single.
+5 |
August 5, 2020 on The Number Ones: Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”
Realization and Inside Out were paired on a single CD quite a few years ago - I don't know how available that reissue is anymore, but it's worth seeking out.
0 |
July 22, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – July 2020
It is a really good record, and was in contention, but literally got nudged out of the way for "embarrassment of riches" reasons.
+1 |
July 22, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – July 2020
Inside Out and Realization (Henderson's two albums for the Capricorn label) were basically Mwandishi albums in disguise - all the members of that band, including Herbie Hancock, played on them, and when I interviewed him, Henderson told me they were closer to what Mwandishi sounded like live than any of the group's other work, because Warner Bros. and Columbia (the labels Hancock was signed to back then) wanted more commercial material. They didn't really get it - all three Mwandishi albums have one side-long jam and two tracks on the other side - but whatever.
+2 |
July 21, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – July 2020
Have you ever seen the cover of John Coltrane's Live At The Village Vanguard Again! from 1966? Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and Rashied Ali are all standing there dressed in nice, reasonably hip clothes, and Jimmy Garrison is wearing a plaid short sleeve shirt, khaki shorts, and white tube socks. It's impossible to look at the photo and not feel bad for him...but it was his choice to show up that way to a gig, I guess...
+5 |
July 21, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – July 2020
"Together and separately, Eurythmics haven’t done anything as elementally powerful as 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This).'" Disagree; their 1987 album Savage is AMAZING, and the first single from that - "Beethoven (I Love To Listen)" - is arguably even more stark and terrifying than "Sweet Dreams." And the video's phenomenal.
+14 |
July 20, 2020 on The Number Ones: Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”
Just you wait. There's a ridiculous amount of fantastic records coming out this summer, including some by artists I'd basically sworn off and others I've been waiting for full-length albums from for what seems like forever...
+5 |
June 19, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – June 2020
Yeah, Stanko was a tremendous talent. I loved those records, and his later stuff with New York musicians as well.
+2 |
June 19, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – June 2020
Funny story: Revolting Cocks couldn't originally get permission from the publisher to release their version of "Physical" (the writers actually threatened to sue), so they had to write entirely new lyrics, in the process turning it from a sex song into something more like AC/DC's "Night Prowler." Many years later, the version with the original lyrics showed up in a boxed set.
+6 |
May 22, 2020 on The Number Ones: Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”
Careful what you wish for. You'd get a 3000-word rant about why all black metal is shit, followed by 10 broooootal slam death albums that I chose for their cover art featuring neon-colored demons tearing cartoonishly proportioned women in half against sci-fi landscapes.
+2 |
May 21, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – May 2020
I saw Sanders this past December. He's interesting live now, because he doesn't do the raw screaming thing that much - a lot of the show is more like 1950s hard bop, and he proves that he can really play the shit out of the horn, that the giant tyrannosaurus roar is just one tool in his kit.
+5 |
May 6, 2020 on The Number Ones: Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes”
Just start with their debut, King Of The Dead. The first song includes the lines "He's the hero of the atom age/Born in a test tube, raised in a cage." What more do you need to know?
+9 |
April 30, 2020 on The Month In Metal – April 2020
This song was featured prominently in the first season of the show The Americans, as one of the Russian secret agents used to listen to it in his car - somehow, early 80s pop-country was one of the things that made him think America might not be all bad.
+9 |
April 24, 2020 on The Number Ones: Eddie Rabbitt’s “I Love A Rainy Night”
You have my attention...
+1 |
February 20, 2020 on The Month In Jazz – February 2020