Eddie Condon & Bud Freeman: Complete Commodore & Decca Sessions (#259)

Eddie Condon wasn’t born in Chicago, but he was in town from the 1920s and was organizing bands and hustling recording sessions as a teenager. Condon’s reputation as a go-getter and an enthusiast – later to become an excellent story-teller and what we’d call these days a media darling – brought a lot of the personality to this music. It was ebullient and uninhibited. Musicians and audiences together were carried along by the spirit of it.

Dixieland made a strong impression on him and the group that became known as the Austin High School gang after five fellow students -- Jimmy and Dick McPartland, Jim Lannigan, Bud Freeman, and Frank Teschemacher -- started gigging together. But it’s a mistake to think this was just a louder, more expressive version of the music that had moved from New Orleans. Chicago was bursting with musical ideas and much of it filtered into the work these musicians were creating. Chicago was THE place in that era. Only a few years earlier, Louis Armstrong had joined King Oliver. Bix Beiderbecke was playing all over town. Benny Goodman was on his way. It was a noisy town.

And so much else was changing in that era, including the dance steps. There was a relaxation of the heavy syncopation in the era that had preceded it. The music was more melodic and varied.

Freeman played an important part in freeing music from its two-step rigidity. His tone developed into something that was lighter and more tuneful. He could fashion long, beguiling solos while still maintaining a ferocious swing.
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