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Bob Freedman: Jazz Themes

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Bob Freedman was a wonderful arranger and ardent JazzWax reader. His finest arrangement was And We Listened for Maynard Ferguson's A Message From Newport (1958). He finest album was the little-known Jazz Themes From Anatomy of a Murder. The album was recorded at Boston's Ace Studios for the Coronet label in 1959—the same year Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder film opened and Duke Ellington's soundtrack recording was released.

Bob assembled a top-notch local band for the session: Herb Pomeroy, Lennie Johnson and Bill Berry (tp); Gene DiStasio (tb); Bob Freedman (as,cond,arr); Varty Harotunian and Joe Caruso (ts); Jimmy Mosher (bar); Ray Santisi (p); John Neves (b) and Jimmy Zitano (d).

Bob's interpretations of Ellington's compositions and score are superb. They're moody and relentlessly surprising, and the solos are top notch. Jimmy Mosher, for example, delivers a hair-raising baritone saxophone solo Midnight Indigo. Same goes for pianist Ray Santisi on Sunswept Sunday. And the solos by Bob and Herb Pomeroy throughout are exquisite. Best of all, the album's music is treated like a suite, meaning there are no breaks between compositions. One song leads seamlessly into the next. I found myself listening to the album six or seven times in a row.

Bob Freedman died in 2018.

The Anatomy album recently was released by Fresh Sound on its “Unsung Bandleaders" series, teamed with Keith Williams's Big Band Jazz Themes From TV & Motion Pictures. The crime-jazz album was recorded in 1959 and features themes from Perry Mason, Peter Gunn, Richard Diamond, The Thin Man, M-Squad and others.

Bonus: Here's Bob Freedman's arrangement of his composition And We Listened...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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