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Music Is Forever: The Music of Pianist Russ Freeman

Music Is Forever: The Music of Pianist Russ Freeman

By: Virko Baley
Appeared In:

Stefan Karlsson Trio: Stefan Karlsson, piano; Tom Warrington, bass; Ed Soph, drums. Special Guests: Marvin Stamm, trumpet & flugelhorn, and Joni Janak, vocals.

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Russ Freeman was a major force in the West Coast School as a pianist and composer. His work with trumpeter Chet Baker and drummer Shelly Manne alone place him in that elite hierarchy of the most talented and productive of jazz artists. The Stefan Karlsson trio has teamed up with Marvin Stamm and Joni Janak to produce a commemorative recording of some of Freeman's finest jazz compositions. The title of the album, named after one of the tracks, has an interesting history. The day after bassist Monty Budwig died, Russ and singer Annie Ross, of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross fame, were sitting around lamenting the loss of so many jazz giants and decided to write a song commemorating those artists. Music Is Forever, sung by Joni Janak and accompanied by Stefan Karlsson, rues the loss of 28 jazz greats, ranging from Louis Armstrong to Clifford Brown, Coleman Hawkins to Zoot Sims, and Billie Holiday to Sarah Vaughan. It is cleverly devised and superbly performed, ending on the upbeat thought that their music will last forever through their recordings.

The Karlsson Trio produces its usual mind-boggling performance which always features some of the most amazing musical mind reading you will ever encounter. Add in Stamm's insightful and lyrical style and Janak's breathtaking control and interpretations, and the result is a superb tribute to a fine pianist and composer. The last track, Elegy for Russ, is particularly poignant in that regard, with Stefan paying homage to a musican he both loved and respected.


1. Say When
2. Hugo Hurwhey
3. The Wind
4. An Afternoon at Home
5. Bea's Flat
6. Run, Run, Run
7. Music Is Forever
8. Band Aid
9. Safe at Home
10. Only You
11. Elegy for Russ

All compositions by Russ Freeman with the exception of Elegy for Russ, which is by Stefan Karlsson.

This article was published on Dec 18, 2004.
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