A Jazzman's Tale - A Jazz Story About Charles Freeman Lee, Bebop Trumpeter And Pianist


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Uniquely informed and informative: 'A Jazzman's Tale' is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Music History and American Biography collections—and a 'must' read for all dedicated jazz fans! —James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
Charles Freeman Lee
A Jazzman’s Tale is a screenplay memoir of bebop trumpeter and pianist Charles Freeman Lee. Freeman, as he was better known, was one of the jazzmen who joined the jazz revolution called bebop at Minton's Playhouse and the Paradise Club in Harlem, New York City in the 1950s. Freeman came out of Wilberforce Collegians, an important band in jazz history formed in 1926 at Wilberforce University in Ohio, with famous alumni like Benny Carter, Frank Foster and Ben Webster. He played with Thelonious Monk, James Moody Sonny Stitt and others in the bebop era and made two albums with bebop pianist, Elmo Hope, and ex Wilberforce Collegians band mate, saxophonist, Frank Foster.

A Jazzman’s Tale grew from an interview with Freeman in Paris in 1993 and contains verbatim excerpts from the interview and is full of jazzitude—jazz slang and improvisational storytelling—adding another layer of texture to the narrative of this screenplay memoir. As a bonus, the book includes an interview with Freeman by his sister, Professor Jane Lee Ball where he shares his ideas on bebop, jazz and musicians like Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope, Bud Powell and Billie Holiday with humor and wit. Several beautiful vintage photographs show Freeman as a young jazzman and students at Wilberforce University between 1895 and 1965.

A Jazzman’s Tale
ISBN: 9781544648910
178 pages
Create Space Publishing

About A Jazzman’s Tale

When the Jazz Arts Group released its Jazz Audience Initiative survey of the jazz market in 2011, the chief concern was the urgent need to develop new ways of engaging younger audiences, infusing the art form with new energy and generate ideas for involvement that speak to that younger audience.

The survey revealed that a third of jazz fans wanted to study music history or music appreciation, to deepen their knowledge of jazz.

A Jazzman’s Tale is based on an interview with Freeman Lee, as he was better known. It is presented as a screenplay because the author wanted to convey Freeman’s authentic voice in jazz slang, totally unfiltered. The use of images reduced the number of words necessary to dramatize every nuance of the jazzman’s experience.

The story depicts the life of Freeman Lee, as he makes his way from Ohio to 1950s New York City to join the revolution called bebop taking place at Minton’s Playhouse and the Paradise Club.

“Younger jazz fans who want a jazz story that will entertain and inform will enjoy this book” said Johnson, “Freeman’s story of love at first sight with Jenny, the wife of vibraharpist, Milt Jackson, while pursuing his career on trumpet in New York City, is a smart, funny read about a jazzman during the bebop revolution.”

As a bonus, the book also includes the full text of the Interview with his late sister, Professor Emerita of English at Wilberforce University, where he discusses music, bebop, and his pals Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope and Bud Powell.

The book also contains never-before-published vintage photographs of student life at Wilberforce University, home to Wilberforce Collegians, an important jazz band formed in 1926 by influential brothers Horace and Fletcher Henderson. Freeman was an alumnus of Wilberforce Collegians as were Frank Foster, Benny Carter, Ben Webster, Snooky Young, George Russell and Billy Strayhorn and others.

A Jazzman’s Tale actually delves into the real life and character of one jazzman and is meant for jazz fans of any age who want to know more about jazz history but who may be intimidated by academic tomes on jazz history” said Johnson.

To learn more about Freeman and the Wilberforce Collegians, visit ajazzmanstale.com

Freeman Lee’s Discography

  • Wail Frank Wail (Esquire) Freeman Lee (trumpet) Frank Foster (Saxophone) Elmo Hope (piano) John Ore (bass) Arthur Taylor (drums) The back of this album has a lengthy, vigorous defense of bop (bebop) by Elmo Hope, listing who plays bop, artist by artist; it also introduces Frank Foster and Freeman Lee, as alumni of Wilberforce Collegians.
  • Elmo Hope Quintet Vol 2, (Blue Note) with Frank Foster and Freeman Lee- Percy Heath, Art Blakey (drums), Elmo Hope (piano) Frank Foster (saxophone) Freeman Lee (trumpet). Another version of this record by Vogue with different album cover (PRLP 7021) exists.
  • Elmo Hope Trio and Quintet (Blue Note) Percy Heath(bass) Leroy Vinnager (bass) Art Blakey (drums) “Philly” Joe Jones (drums) Frank Butler Elmo Hope (piano) Frank Foster (saxophone) Harold Land (saxophone) Freeman Lee (trumpet) Stu Williamson (trumpet) Recorded 1953- 1957 released in 1991.
  • Hope Meets Foster (Prestige) Freeman Lee (trumpet) Frank Foster (saxophone) Elmo Hope (piano) Arthur Taylor (drums) John Ore (bass). 4 Tracks include Freeman and he is missing from two.
  • A Story of Modern Jazz Various artists (Blue Note) Freeman on track Crazy with Elmo Hope Quintet- Soundtrack to Documentary on History of the Blue Note Label- Freeman Lee (trumpet)
  • Bebop It Began in the Big Apple (BHM Productions GmbH) Freeman Lee (trumpet) with Elmo Hope Quintet
  • New York is our Home (Blue Note2008) Freeman Lee (trumpet) with Elmo Hope Quintet
  • The Blues by Benny Green (Blue Moon): track Love at last Freeman Lee is credited as composer.
  • Shades of Blu (Black Lion Recording) Howard McGhee. Track B3- My Delight- written by Freeman Lee
  • Sharp Edge (Fontana) album by Howard McGhee, track B3, My Delight, composer Freeman lee
  • Voila: The Preacher (Esquire) album by Babs Gonzales (1958) Freeman on vocals, scatting as part of the Modern Sounds
  • Swings the Blues, Benny Green

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