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Lawrence (Bud) Freeman discusses jazz with Studs Terkel

BROADCAST: May. 11, 1971 | DURATION: 00:32:29

Synopsis

Studs Terkel interviews Lawrence "Bud" Freeman about his career in jazz.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

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Studs Terkel Oh, God. How can I describe my feelings on hearing this? Bud Freeman and his colleagues playing. This is from a new Bud Freeman album called "The Compleat Bud Freeman," Monmouth Evergreen. That isn't the point. Bud is here with his colleagues, all talented and so much a part of jazz history. At the Happy Medium, twice a night, we'll talk about that. Bud is my guest. I say, "Oh, God, how can I describe my feeling" because in hearing Bud play the tenor sax, and he is one of the, truly one of the most creative in all of jazz history, he along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and some of the others that followed, it recalls to me, Bud, almost like Marcel Proust, my memory of things past, remembers things past, the sound suddenly opens up years ago life, hearing you and your friends at the Three Deuces and later on, The Brass Rail and a certain period in my life that I found very delightful and pleasurable and your music was part of it. I should point out to the audience the very first person I ever interviewed on radio, the very first person, is my guest this morning, Bud Freeman. And how many years ago that was, how many

Bud Freeman I was trying to think, Studs, it was sometime before the war, of course.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Bud Freeman And I was playing out here, I think I had the band at the sort of the house band at the Sherman Hotel in the Panther

Studs Terkel I remember that, I remember Billie Holiday was in town.

Bud Freeman At [unintelligible]. Well, everyone was here in those days. And of course, the Blue Note, you know, Frank Holzfeind's place.

Studs Terkel Came a bit later. Frank's Blue Note came a bit later. You know, marvelous and its history was to

Bud Freeman Come to think of it, you're right. The Blue Note came after the war, didn't it?

Studs Terkel Yeah, I think so.

Bud Freeman That is, I didn't play there 'til 1947.

Studs Terkel I remember the places you were playing at. How do we describe the tenor -- This moment that we just heard something called "Aunt Hagar's Blues" -- Aunt Hagar's, "Uncle Haggart's Blues."

Bud Freeman Well, it's a play on the old title, you know. I don't know if you go back that far, Studs, but there was a wonderful old title called "Aunt Hagar's," "Aunt Hagar's Children Blues," so I wanted to honor Bob Haggart, of course, the great bassist.

Studs Terkel The other was a W.C. Handy number, "Aunt Hagar's Children."

Bud Freeman Was it? Did Handy write it? Yeah. Anyway, so this was a play on that title, I called it "Uncle Haggart's Blues."

Studs Terkel But how would we describe beginnings, Bud himself, how would you describe your tenor sax? The sound is only yours and there's no mistake about it.

Bud Freeman Well, I've been playing for 47 years, and I'd like to think that after having rejected a lot of bad ideas and playing and listening to everything I was influenced by as a kid, that it might have rolled up into, forgive the egomania, that it might have rolled into some 'Freemanistic' ball.

Studs Terkel Well, it is 'Freemanistic.

Bud Freeman ' Is that okay?

Studs Terkel I like that, it's 'Freemanistic.' 'Course, your whole approach to life is [funny?], what this quest a friend of mine calls 'the search for delight.' And it's there and you are leaders of a group we'll talk about that too. And of course your colleagueship with men like Jack Teagarden and Pee Wee Russell, but coming back to beginnings you were, you were one of the figures, you and Jimmy McPartland and Eddie Condon be described as 'Chicago Jazz.' Can we recreate that time? You were at Austin High School.

Bud Freeman Yes. Well. We had our -- First of all, the so-called Austin High Gang was unique in that it was one of the probably the first group of musicians to be playing as professionals in high school. I remember having to have had classes moved up as late as 10 o'clock, which was an unheard-of thing in high school, and I'd like to say that the McPartland brothers, Jimmy, who is still alive, was a great help to me in starting me out. And in that group were the great clarinet player Teschemacher and of course, Jimmy, who's, we've just said is still with us. And then Dick McPartland who passed away, great guitarist, and incidentally I got a call the other day from Jim Lanigan, who was the bass player with us in those days. He had become -- He got out of jazz and got into the, oh, he became a fine bass player and played with the Chicago Symphony, and as you know in the symphony, they had about eight basses, six or eight basses, and I remember calling up Jim after he'd been with the symphony a few years and saying, "Jimmy you must be very happy, this is the epitome of the music business," and he said, "Oh, no," he said, "It's terrible," he said, "You know, every time one bass player makes a mistake, we all get blamed."

Studs Terkel Coming back to the beginning, jazz. Young white kids, west side of Chicago, Austin High, that period. A young Louis Armstrong had come to town with King Oliver's band. Bessie Smith was singing here at the time, at one time or another. Jimmie Noone. How did you come -- What led you to jazz?

Bud Freeman Well, that's a good question. You see, the records I'd heard at home. Dad always had old records, Caruso, the symphony, a lot of Brahms. Then of course, the popular dance music records such as Paul Whiteman, Isham Jones and I was very, you know, there was a constant environment of music. I think I listened to music 24 hours a day in our home, but it was not until I heard the Black man's music, that is, the Black man of that day, Louis Armstrong and King Oliver playing in a place on the south side in the Negro neighborhood called the Lincoln Gardens. It was again not until I'd heard this that I realized I was hearing a whole new form of music, because you see this was some 47 years ago, 48 years ago, and not only was I hearing a whole new form of music, but but experience experiencing a whole new way of life. Here were these people chained in, hemmed in by us, the whites, in their neighborhood, not allowed to go out of the neighborhood, rather not allowed to come into our neighborhood. And yet we were so beautifully accepted when we went there. They seemed to understand that we were just there to hear the music and not there looking for

Studs Terkel And of course it was the music, what was it about the music that

Bud Freeman Well, it was, it was, you know, jazz is not very old. If we if we speak of what you and I like to think of as real, real jazz. It's not very old and yet it's the only real American art form since we borrowed everything else from the Orient and from Europe. And so. And incidentally, I want to say that Dave Tough, the great drummer, was the first one ever to introduce me to this kind of music. And I was, you know, oh, so fascinated by it. We used to go out there three and four four nights a week, get home maybe seven o'clock in the morning. So you know there was no school that day.

Studs Terkel So this altered your life.

Bud Freeman I think so. I think it, I like to think that it gave me a very interesting life. I hate to think that I would have done anything else. And when I say that this was the Black man's music, I mean in the beginning it was because I don't find that the Black man's music is any different today than the white man's music in that there are white players who feel and play it just as well. But in the beginning you had the firsts: the great King Oliver, the great Bessie Smith, the great Louis Armstrong, the Dodds Brothers, the James P. Johnsons, the Fats Wallers. These were the people who created and developed develop this music because you know, in those days, now this I'm speaking specifically of Chicago. I remember a conversation with Don Redman, the great black saxophone player and arranger. He and I were going to New York

Studs Terkel together McKinney's

Bud Freeman On a bus, of all things. And he said, "You know, Bud, you're not going to like the way they play in New York. They don't swing." This was a most interesting thing. I never gave it a thought until I experienced it; that, with with all due respect to Harlem and all that, it did not have the music yet that Chicago has had.

Studs Terkel That's interesting, when Chicagoans came later--

Bud Freeman Yep.

Studs Terkel When Louis Armstrong came from New Orleans to Chicago to New York to join Fletcher Henderson.

Bud Freeman Right. So if there is any such thing, Studs, as a Chicago style, it is that period wherein the so-called Chicago style was played. And so if we could, if we were, well, we were said to have been a group that played Chicago style. Well, I take that as a great compliment, because I think the Chicago style was really Louis and King Oliver and those people. But we as white players were so impressed by this kind of music and had our own way of expressing what we felt in having been influenced by that music. And I think this was was later to have been called the Chicago style. Now, I don't condone the idea that -- Of style, of names of categories, I don't think any musician does. If you ask, for instance, do you think for one minute if someone told Cezanne that he was an Impressionist he would have agreed? He was just a painter and a great player is just a great

Studs Terkel It isn't a question of labels. We'll come to that as we go along. Let's intersperse this with the music, you and your colleagues, and from this album was "Song of the Dove." What would you say of the song of -- Your colleagues, by the way, on this album are who?

Bud Freeman "Song of the Dove," was a title given to me by my wife who was very anti-war and very pro-dove, and so I was playing, I remember, you see, in composing I will get my horn out and play over different intervals and phrases and try and in this way if I find something that inspires me, I make a composition out of it. So one day in my apartment I was playing this most of the day and my wife said, "What a delightful thing. What are you going to call it?" I said, "I have no title." She said, "How about 'Song of the Dove?'"

Studs Terkel Oh, you were improvising, it's a reverie sort of music, as we'll hear, and you were improvising and out of

Bud Freeman Out of it came the composition.

Studs Terkel Your colleagues here, by the way, are Bob Wilber.

Bud Freeman Bob Wilber, the great, the best soprano player alive; Gus Johnson, our drummer, a great drummer; Ralph Sutton, fine pianist, and of course, the great Bob Haggart on bass.

Studs Terkel And Bud Freeman. There's the quality, all right, the sensitivity. "Song of the Dove," it's Bud Freeman and his colleagues and that fuzzy sound that is yours, that is Freemanesque. We could, we were talking about so many things, Bud Freeman is my guest, one of the jazz virtuosi, truly so on the tenor sax and influence so many young players, too, by the way, both white and Black. Bud, before you said [Chicagoists?] at the time you're talking about the '30's and then and then later on you and many of your colleagues moved to New York and took it there with you and altered New York to a great extent then as well as the great Black musicians, particularly Black musicians. But swing. Is he swing? I know this is asked so many times, it's so nebulous a question, too.

Bud Freeman Yes. Well, if you want to get to the word 'swing,' here again we go into the categorical things which musicians do not [believe? play?]. No. Swing, or the first time I'd ever heard anyone use the word 'swing' pertaining to jazz music, was Louis Armstrong playing down at the Sunset and somebody else was playing a solo. Maybe Earl Hines was playing a piano solo and Louis said, "Swing it, man," you know. Now I think in that sense it's the first time I'd ever heard the word used. And so when you, when the critics get through with things and build up all these categorical names, God knows what you're listening to. What was swing music supposed to be? The music that Benny Goodman was given all the credit for was played 30 years before that by Fletcher Henderson, written by him and played by him.

Studs Terkel Right. There we go

Bud Freeman And that was called swing music, you know. So here we get into this, and I respect the fact that you have to have some sort of

Studs Terkel But the point you're making earlier doesn't really, we're hooked on labels, hooked on [noisiness?], good music, good jazz, but improvisation would be one of the one of the necessary attributes of jazz,

Bud Freeman Well, jazz, real jazz is all, is, is improvisation. You know, when when first played, what was the feeling of the man who played? He wasn't interested in playing the melody. He was interested in doing his own creating, a sort of free spirit, a free kind of expression trying to put what he felt of his own life into his music. This became the improvisation. I'm not speaking of the improvisation that Brahms and Bach talked about or understood. I'm speaking of the improvisation, you give me a phrase to play and I've been playing this music all my life and I'm supposed to feel something. If I play one or two notes that are not the melody, that is improvisation.

Studs Terkel Because it hits you at that moment. So you spoke of a certain freedom. And earlier before we went on the air or as the music was going, we're talking about isn't it remarkable the paradox involved, the Black hemmed in, restricted, and yet the freest of all music came from him

Bud Freeman Well, I want to tell you something. I remember, I -- Show you how wonderful these people were to me. First time I went to Harlem, there was a great pianist, the Black pianist, Willie "the Lion" Smith, incidentally he's still around, we went to hear him in Washington and I had no money, I was just a kid, and I used to go up there to hear this great player and I'd sit there, and the doorman, a great big Black man who weighed about 400 pounds, used to buy me drinks because they, you know, they always furthered the idea

Studs Terkel

Bud Freeman Oh, God. How can I describe my feelings on hearing this? Bud Freeman and his colleagues playing. This is from a new Bud Freeman album called "The Compleat Bud Freeman," Monmouth Evergreen. That isn't the point. Bud is here with his colleagues, all talented and so much a part of jazz history. At the Happy Medium, twice a night, we'll talk about that. Bud is my guest. I say, "Oh, God, how can I describe my feeling" because in hearing Bud play the tenor sax, and he is one of the, truly one of the most creative in all of jazz history, he along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young and some of the others that followed, it recalls to me, Bud, almost like Marcel Proust, my memory of things past, remembers things past, the sound suddenly opens up years ago life, hearing you and your friends at the Three Deuces and later on, The Brass Rail and a certain period in my life that I found very delightful and pleasurable and your music was part of it. I should point out to the audience the very first person I ever interviewed on radio, the very first person, is my guest this morning, Bud Freeman. And how many years ago that was, how many lives I was trying to think, Studs, it was sometime before the war, of course. Yes. And I was playing out here, I think I had the band at the sort of the house band at the Sherman Hotel in the Panther Room. I remember that, I remember Billie Holiday was in town. At [unintelligible]. Well, everyone was here in those days. And of course, the Blue Note, you know, Frank Holzfeind's place. Came a bit later. Frank's Blue Note came a bit later. You know, marvelous and its history was to -- Come to think of it, you're right. The Blue Note came after the war, didn't it? Yeah, I think so. That is, I didn't play there 'til 1947. I remember the places you were playing at. How do we describe the tenor -- This moment that we just heard something called "Aunt Hagar's Blues" -- Aunt Hagar's, "Uncle Haggart's Blues." Well, it's a play on the old title, you know. I don't know if you go back that far, Studs, but there was a wonderful old title called "Aunt Hagar's," "Aunt Hagar's Children Blues," so I wanted to honor Bob Haggart, of course, the great bassist. The other was a W.C. Handy number, "Aunt Hagar's Children." Was it? Did Handy write it? Yeah. Anyway, so this was a play on that title, I called it "Uncle Haggart's Blues." But how would we describe beginnings, Bud himself, how would you describe your tenor sax? The sound is only yours and there's no mistake about it. Well, I've been playing for 47 years, and I'd like to think that after having rejected a lot of bad ideas and playing and listening to everything I was influenced by as a kid, that it might have rolled up into, forgive the egomania, that it might have rolled into some 'Freemanistic' ball. Well, it is 'Freemanistic. ' Is that okay? I like that, it's 'Freemanistic.' 'Course, your whole approach to life is [funny?], what this quest a friend of mine calls 'the search for delight.' And it's there and you are leaders of a group we'll talk about that too. And of course your colleagueship with men like Jack Teagarden and Pee Wee Russell, but coming back to beginnings you were, you were one of the figures, you and Jimmy McPartland and Eddie Condon be described as 'Chicago Jazz.' Can we recreate that time? You were at Austin High School. Yes. Well. We had our -- First of all, the so-called Austin High Gang was unique in that it was one of the probably the first group of musicians to be playing as professionals in high school. I remember having to have had classes moved up as late as 10 o'clock, which was an unheard-of thing in high school, and I'd like to say that the McPartland brothers, Jimmy, who is still alive, was a great help to me in starting me out. And in that group were the great clarinet player Teschemacher and of course, Jimmy, who's, we've just said is still with us. And then Dick McPartland who passed away, great guitarist, and incidentally I got a call the other day from Jim Lanigan, who was the bass player with us in those days. He had become -- He got out of jazz and got into the, oh, he became a fine bass player and played with the Chicago Symphony, and as you know in the symphony, they had about eight basses, six or eight basses, and I remember calling up Jim after he'd been with the symphony a few years and saying, "Jimmy you must be very happy, this is the epitome of the music business," and he said, "Oh, no," he said, "It's terrible," he said, "You know, every time one bass player makes a mistake, we all get blamed." Coming back to the beginning, jazz. Young white kids, west side of Chicago, Austin High, that period. A young Louis Armstrong had come to town with King Oliver's band. Bessie Smith was singing here at the time, at one time or another. Jimmie Noone. How did you come -- What led you to jazz? Well, that's a good question. You see, the records I'd heard at home. Dad always had old records, Caruso, the symphony, a lot of Brahms. Then of course, the popular dance music records such as Paul Whiteman, Isham Jones and I was very, you know, there was a constant environment of music. I think I listened to music 24 hours a day in our home, but it was not until I heard the Black man's music, that is, the Black man of that day, Louis Armstrong and King Oliver playing in a place on the south side in the Negro neighborhood called the Lincoln Gardens. It was again not until I'd heard this that I realized I was hearing a whole new form of music, because you see this was some 47 years ago, 48 years ago, and not only was I hearing a whole new form of music, but but experience experiencing a whole new way of life. Here were these people chained in, hemmed in by us, the whites, in their neighborhood, not allowed to go out of the neighborhood, rather not allowed to come into our neighborhood. And yet we were so beautifully accepted when we went there. They seemed to understand that we were just there to hear the music and not there looking for any And of course it was the music, what was it about the music that [unintelligible]? Well, it was, it was, you know, jazz is not very old. If we if we speak of what you and I like to think of as real, real jazz. It's not very old and yet it's the only real American art form since we borrowed everything else from the Orient and from Europe. And so. And incidentally, I want to say that Dave Tough, the great drummer, was the first one ever to introduce me to this kind of music. And I was, you know, oh, so fascinated by it. We used to go out there three and four four nights a week, get home maybe seven o'clock in the morning. So you know there was no school that day. So this altered your life. I think so. I think it, I like to think that it gave me a very interesting life. I hate to think that I would have done anything else. And when I say that this was the Black man's music, I mean in the beginning it was because I don't find that the Black man's music is any different today than the white man's music in that there are white players who feel and play it just as well. But in the beginning you had the firsts: the great King Oliver, the great Bessie Smith, the great Louis Armstrong, the Dodds Brothers, the James P. Johnsons, the Fats Wallers. These were the people who created and developed develop this music because you know, in those days, now this I'm speaking specifically of Chicago. I remember a conversation with Don Redman, the great black saxophone player and arranger. He and I were going to New York together McKinney's On a bus, of all things. And he said, "You know, Bud, you're not going to like the way they play in New York. They don't swing." This was a most interesting thing. I never gave it a thought until I experienced it; that, with with all due respect to Harlem and all that, it did not have the music yet that Chicago has had. That's interesting, when Chicagoans came later-- Yep. When Louis Armstrong came from New Orleans to Chicago to New York to join Fletcher Henderson. Right. So if there is any such thing, Studs, as a Chicago style, it is that period wherein the so-called Chicago style was played. And so if we could, if we were, well, we were said to have been a group that played Chicago style. Well, I take that as a great compliment, because I think the Chicago style was really Louis and King Oliver and those people. But we as white players were so impressed by this kind of music and had our own way of expressing what we felt in having been influenced by that music. And I think this was was later to have been called the Chicago style. Now, I don't condone the idea that -- Of style, of names of categories, I don't think any musician does. If you ask, for instance, do you think for one minute if someone told Cezanne that he was an Impressionist he would have agreed? He was just a painter and a great player is just a great player. It isn't a question of labels. We'll come to that as we go along. Let's intersperse this with the music, you and your colleagues, and from this album was "Song of the Dove." What would you say of the song of -- Your colleagues, by the way, on this album are who? "Song of the Dove," was a title given to me by my wife who was very anti-war and very pro-dove, and so I was playing, I remember, you see, in composing I will get my horn out and play over different intervals and phrases and try and in this way if I find something that inspires me, I make a composition out of it. So one day in my apartment I was playing this most of the day and my wife said, "What a delightful thing. What are you going to call it?" I said, "I have no title." She said, "How about 'Song of the Dove?'" Oh, you were improvising, it's a reverie sort of music, as we'll hear, and you were improvising and out of it Out of it came the composition. Your colleagues here, by the way, are Bob Wilber. Bob Wilber, the great, the best soprano player alive; Gus Johnson, our drummer, a great drummer; Ralph Sutton, fine pianist, and of course, the great Bob Haggart on bass. And Bud Freeman. There's the quality, all right, the sensitivity. "Song of the Dove," it's Bud Freeman and his colleagues and that fuzzy sound that is yours, that is Freemanesque. We could, we were talking about so many things, Bud Freeman is my guest, one of the jazz virtuosi, truly so on the tenor sax and influence so many young players, too, by the way, both white and Black. Bud, before you said [Chicagoists?] at the time you're talking about the '30's and then and then later on you and many of your colleagues moved to New York and took it there with you and altered New York to a great extent then as well as the great Black musicians, particularly Black musicians. But swing. Is he swing? I know this is asked so many times, it's so nebulous a question, too. Yes. Well, if you want to get to the word 'swing,' here again we go into the categorical things which musicians do not [believe? play?]. No. Swing, or the first time I'd ever heard anyone use the word 'swing' pertaining to jazz music, was Louis Armstrong playing down at the Sunset and somebody else was playing a solo. Maybe Earl Hines was playing a piano solo and Louis said, "Swing it, man," you know. Now I think in that sense it's the first time I'd ever heard the word used. And so when you, when the critics get through with things and build up all these categorical names, God knows what you're listening to. What was swing music supposed to be? The music that Benny Goodman was given all the credit for was played 30 years before that by Fletcher Henderson, written by him and played by him. Right. There we go again. And that was called swing music, you know. So here we get into this, and I respect the fact that you have to have some sort of category. But the point you're making earlier doesn't really, we're hooked on labels, hooked on [noisiness?], good music, good jazz, but improvisation would be one of the one of the necessary attributes of jazz, the Well, jazz, real jazz is all, is, is improvisation. You know, when when first played, what was the feeling of the man who played? He wasn't interested in playing the melody. He was interested in doing his own creating, a sort of free spirit, a free kind of expression trying to put what he felt of his own life into his music. This became the improvisation. I'm not speaking of the improvisation that Brahms and Bach talked about or understood. I'm speaking of the improvisation, you give me a phrase to play and I've been playing this music all my life and I'm supposed to feel something. If I play one or two notes that are not the melody, that is improvisation. Because it hits you at that moment. So you spoke of a certain freedom. And earlier before we went on the air or as the music was going, we're talking about isn't it remarkable the paradox involved, the Black hemmed in, restricted, and yet the freest of all music came from him under Well, I want to tell you something. I remember, I -- Show you how wonderful these people were to me. First time I went to Harlem, there was a great pianist, the Black pianist, Willie "the Lion" Smith, incidentally he's still around, we went to hear him in Washington and I had no money, I was just a kid, and I used to go up there to hear this great player and I'd sit there, and the doorman, a great big Black man who weighed about 400 pounds, used to buy me drinks because they, you know, they always furthered the idea that This Pardon?

Studs Terkel This was during the

Bud Freeman Oh, sure. This was about 1930. They always furthered the idea that the white man, they were happy to have the white men hear their music, see what they, you know, be a part of what they do. There were never any There was never any resentment. And they knew I wasn't there for any trouble, that I was there as a student of that kind of music.

Studs Terkel But thinking about that period

Bud Freeman As against our not allowing them to come where we were, you see.

Studs Terkel Well, the difference today, many differences, of course, in revelation and

Bud Freeman The Black man has to be given credit. I don't -- I'm not speaking of the Black man today, the Black man of today is becoming an educated man. He's -- It's an entirely different thing today, but the Black man of the time I speak of should be given full credit for having given the United States and the world a true American art form, jazz music.

Studs Terkel And so out back to the music. If we speak of jazz music from the album, "The Compleat Bud Freeman," we have "Out of My Road," there's a title that fascinates me, "Out of My Road, Mr. Toad."

Bud Freeman Well, that's an interesting thing. You know, I was very, not involved in Buddhism or Zen Buddhism to the point of being an ascetic, but I just like reading about it, I enjoy it, and there's an old haiku, you know, haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. The short, very short verse. And there was a little poem, a haiku called "Out of my road and let me plant these bamboo sticks, Mr. Toad." I can't remember the poet's name, the Japanese poet's name now. But anyway -- Chora, his name was and I think that was written in the 18th century. So I took that, I deleted that and gave the title "Out of My Road, Mr. Toad."

Studs Terkel So we come to something now as we hear "Out of My Road, Mr. Toad," that the sources that come to you for writing a piece or creating a work. Sources are all-pervasive, anywhere and everywhere.

Bud Freeman Yes.

Studs Terkel So as as something hits you, there's a free association involved here, too, then.

Bud Freeman Right.

Studs Terkel "Out of My Road, Mr. Toad," Bud Freeman, is my guest and this is Bud's group playing this on this. By the way, it's a best-selling album for jazz. It's called "The Compleat, C-O-M-P-L-E-A-T Bud Freeman," Monmouth Evergreen records.

Bud Freeman That's the Isaac Walton spelling. The

Studs Terkel The Isaac Walton spelling. But there's something you said before about Zen. And you said Louis Armstrong and yourself, you were Zen before the word ever came into being, well,

Bud Freeman Well, I've been interested in Zen about 17 years, I'd say and after having gone through all this reading I began to realize that jazz is really Zen, you know, there's nothing contrived in the true playing of jazz, and that Louis Armstrong was strictly a Zen player and I think it's true of all great, you know, the people we respected,

Studs Terkel That there's a, let's see if we can go a little further, there's an intuitive air as well as a discipline, but intuitive air, intuitive feeling and a feeling of letting go, I suppose, and feeling free.

Bud Freeman Oh, absolutely. The whole idea.

Studs Terkel For jazz as Zen. We'd say that as a colleague, when I think of Bud, I look at Bud now and he's, we think of young people and vitality, we forget there, I don't know what the calendar is, Bud has been around a while. And aside from looking very young, it's the feeling of youth and vitality in his music and the ease. I can't help but think of one of your friends, Bill Dohler. Talk about Zen and a certain freedom, he was an alto sax man,

Bud Freeman Oh, he's a Zen man all the way, well, Bill is, you know, one of the fine music players in the world, he's -- And incidentally, I played golf with Bill and another fine musician here in town, Russ Morrison, a drummer, and they're two great guys. We had had a ball. They're not involved with all the problems of ambition that people have, and the contrivances that exist. They live, they take a day off to go out and play golf all day long.

Studs Terkel Bill was never ambitious, was he? Bill Dohler.

Bud Freeman Well, he wasn't ambitious in the sense that most people think of being ambitious. He was ambitious in that he wanted to know things. He's always, you know, he's very interested in the aesthetic life.

Studs Terkel Well, you know why the reason I, well, you can very well guess why I brought in Bill Dohler's name. I'm thinking of a certain story, a certain event, a certain anecdote. Would you mind recounting that?

Bud Freeman Well, that's a wild story. Years ago we played, I had a band, Bill and I had a little band at The Brass Rail, and on a Saturday night, that is going into Sunday morning, we'd play 'til about five o'clock in the morning. So we stopped in a bar, there was a place open all night and had a few drinks, and now it's about seven o'clock and Bill said, "Look, I have a good idea. Since we both live on the north side and we have to go through the park. Let's take some peanuts and things and go out and feed the animals," which of course we weren't allowed to do. So by that now we're, you know, we'd had quite a lot to drink. We got up to the zoo and in the, let's see, the first animal was the polar bear and then the grizzly. Bill put his, this hand full of food in and What'd

Studs Terkel -- What'd you, climb over the fence to get in the zoo?

Bud Freeman Bill did, not I.

Studs Terkel He climbed over the fence, got in the zoo.

Bud Freeman And he had this handful of food and he fed the, this polar bear ate the food off his hand without, you know, without a scratch. But in the next cage were the grizzlies and this female grizzly got a hold of three of Bill's fingers and he almost lost his hand. He survived that, and after about six weeks it was healed up, and he got to drinking one morning and thinking about this bear. So he got his golf club and he went over and he hit this bear over the head and he said, "You know, as she was going down, she had a guilty look on her face."

Studs Terkel Because I remember the story and Bill telling it, he was brooding; he was brooding.

Bud Freeman Well, you know there was a headline in a New York paper about that: "Jazz Musician Fights Bear."

Studs Terkel Yeah. So he hit the bear with a golf club. Oh, I had the impression he grabbed the bear by the paw and bit the bear.

Bud Freeman Oh well. There were many stories.

Studs Terkel The thing I remember about Bill is his brooding and saying to himself, through you and later on I asked him this story, is "I was so kind, is this sort of, what is it, what what sort of compensation is it, you know, here I am feeding the bear and then she hurts me."

Bud Freeman "Tried to destroy me." Incidentally, you know, the idea of Bill, Bill

Studs Terkel So he got mad, then, he got mad!

Bud Freeman Oh, sure, but the idea of Bill hitting the bear over the head with a golf club may not be true. You know, there were a lot of stories about him, 'cause Bill is not that kind of guy. I think he forgave the old grizzly.

Studs Terkel Well, now of course you're going to kill the whole myth and you kill the whole -- Now how legends and myths are destroyed. All this time I thought he bit the bear.

Bud Freeman But well, there again is another.

Studs Terkel But then again he returned. He returned to the scene of the bear's crime. But Bill, we talk about musicians and life -- Before Jack hits the road I'll ask you about Teagarden, the remarkable, one of the greatest of all trombonists, that D-minor [strain?], I know you like to explore also that range of haunting, haunting, haunted world, too, in the minor strings.

Bud Freeman Do you want to know a funny thing about the D-minor thing as a title? It wasn't my title, actually. This was the thing we made up on a record date. The composition was just made and we were just playing around and and this thing came out and the man and the the man running the recording date called out and said, "Are you going to play that again?" And I said, "What?" He said, "That D-minor thing." I said, "Oh, that's the title." And that's how we got the title.

Studs Terkel If ever there were a music, if ever there were a tune or a work that represented that what we're talking about with Bud Friedman, it is this one, "The [sic] D Minor Thing," "That D-Minor Thing," the freewheeling quality that that kind of a joyous openness there. Everyone took a whack at being absolutely free.

Bud Freeman That's right, we didn't know what we were going to do until we got to fooling around with that and then it came off.

Studs Terkel Bud Freeman. Yes. People have been asking about this album, I know it's called "The Compleat Bud Freeman" and it's Monmouth Evergreen records and The Jazz Record Mart, on just Seven West Grand Avenue, is about the best jazz place in town. Any place would have it, they would. And he, Bud is at the Happy Medium with his colleagues there.

Bud Freeman The World's Greatest Jazz

Studs Terkel Nine of you. Nine of you. And they are each one a master [unintelligible].

Bud Freeman It's the best band I've ever played in.

Studs Terkel Ralph Sutton is there at

Bud Freeman Billy Butterfield and Yank Lawson, trumpets, two

Studs Terkel of Bob

Bud Freeman Bob Haggart, bass, of course, Ralph Sutton, piano.

Studs Terkel Gus Johnson.

Bud Freeman Gus Johnson, drums, Bob Wilber on clarinet and soprano, Vic Dickenson and Eddie Hubble on trombones.

Studs Terkel So that twice a night.

Bud Freeman Yeah. It's 9:30 and 11:30 P.M.

Studs Terkel Coming back, you see, as some would say, this is music of another time quite obviously it's all time. It's of now. If there's delight one seeks in a certain kind of freedom in listening as well as in observing the freedom and capturing or experiencing the freedom of the artists it's this music, too. So Bud, we're talking about about jazz today. That's a big question, isn't it? Some people say that jazz, you know, what with rock and with a wide variety -- Again, we come to names, don't we? Electrified instruments. Is there less of an audience for jazz than there was, say, 20 years ago or so.

Bud Freeman It's a difficult thing to say. Our band, which is a very successful band as you know, has a large audience but I'm not too sure that all of jazz has a large audience excepting out of this country. Now, you go to Europe, especially in Great Britain, go to Japan, go to Australia, New Zealand. There's a tremendous audience for jazz, because they think of it as an American art form. They're really interested, you see, the American people, I'm sorry to say, don't know the difference between jazz and rag-- And popular music. They just really -- Either they don't take an interest, although I think, in answer to your first question, it is growing because I've seen fabulous audiences where we've gone, and people are getting to know the names.

Studs Terkel There's something else, too, I think that may be interesting. You know, it seems it hasn't grown as far as performers are concerned more and more young guys, more young guys it seems fooling around with instruments, playing, even the world of rock. You know, these very good rock musicians, there are lousy rock musicians as you know there are lousy jazz, but in the field of the better rock musicians, they love jazz.

Bud Freeman Oh, they do.

Studs Terkel And

Bud Freeman You know there's an interesting thing about this; you can't tell the young people what to do. They have to feel that they've discovered you and now they're discovering us, you see. This is a whole new thing to them, they've never heard this music, never at any time.

Studs Terkel You know, one must ask Bud Freeman this rather personal question, but it's one of the, a certain kind of performing artist, you, you were leader of a group for a number of times, the Bud's Famous Chicagoans and the Summa Cum Laude Band, and yet you didn't like the idea of being up front.

Bud Freeman Well, no, I hated the idea of leading a band, in fact, I used to stand behind my band. You know what I hated about it, I think we might have discussed this before. My feeling is this: I could first of all, I could never have been a leader. If if a man in the band didn't like my playing I just, I wouldn't be any good, and I hated the idea of ever firing anyone. I remember we playing at The Brass Rail, and the guys, because I was easy, they used to come late all the time, I suppose a natural thing for people to do, since they feel they have to have a leader and certainly I wasn't. So after coming late several times, the boss'd get on me and I'd go to the men and say, "Fellas, should we quit?" I said, "Look, if you don't start coming on time I'm going to quit. You can have the job." Of course, they couldn't or they'd have been fired. So that was the only way I got

Studs Terkel I remember this now! Bud Freeman, the leader of the band, standing in the rear behind. So we come to Jack Teagarden, one of your so many colleagues, "Jack Hits the Road." This is not from this album, it's from an earlier album, "Jack Hits the Road" and Mr. T.

Bud Freeman Well, there's a wonderful story about Jack. Remember, this is during Prohibition in New York, I'd say about 1920, '28, and Pee Wee Russell called me up at three o'clock in the morning. He said, "Bud, there's an amazing trombone player."

Studs Terkel We should point out Pee Wee Russell came from Oklahoma, as did Teagarden, or from Texas?

Bud Freeman I think, I think Jack was from Oklahoma, I'm not, I'm not sure.

Studs Terkel But Pee Wee the thin man, the clarinetist.

Bud Freeman So Pee Wee called him, he said, "Bud, come on over, there's a trombone player just came into town. You've got to hear him, by the name of Jack Teagarden." We went over to the speakeasy, again say it's about three or three-thirty in the morning and in walked this guy with a little button cap, a corduroy Norfolk suit with trousers halfway up his leg, buttoned shoes, mind you. He had this horn in a corduroy bag, took it out, and played for two or three hours for us. No accompaniment, I had never heard anything like it. So I went to Pollack, I was playing with Ben Pollack at the time, and I went to him and told him about it and Jack came with the band.

Studs Terkel One of the perhaps, one of the great, two, three, great trombonists

Bud Freeman So when he speaks of this, you know, this this piece of Jack hits the road, when I recorded this for Columbia the man getting all the people together, it was an all-star jazz band, said, "How can we get Teagarden?" I said, "I understand he's out on the road with his own band. So we'll try to contact him," and Jack came to that record date, he rode all night on a bus to come and do that record date with me. Had had no sleep at all.

Studs Terkel Jack hits

Bud Freeman Thus the title.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but also thus a reference, we should point out, MCA, and now we talk about agents and matters. There's MC, a reference to Jack's on the road for MCA, Music Corporation of America and this, I take it, is a sly, sardonic comment about

Bud Freeman Well, you know, in those days, you see, they ran everything in the music business, especially the big bands, and you went for days on end without sleep, you know, doing one-nighters riding in buses or broken down cars or whatever, and so this is Jack's getting even, I suppose.

Studs Terkel You know, I guess if I had to choose a recording, that'd be among my 10 to save, one of yours and this particular one where you're involved. Sang Jack Teagarden, "I went to see Bud Freeman," and he improvised this, too. "But then I lost my way I thought I was on the road for MCA." So of course this deals so much with those one-night stands and the travel, doesn't it, being on the road.

Bud Freeman Right. It's the whole idea. Living in buses, broken-down cars. And I suppose there was a satirical resentment there.

Studs Terkel But the matter of the musician. Black we know even more than white, in many cases, you know, the idea of the bus. But white musicians too, the living, the trenchant quality, the that was part of it, too, wasn't it, the absolutely nomadic quality of it.

Bud Freeman Oh, yeah. Well, you know, in those days you'd do anything to play, and this is what you had to do. You just -- Days on end without sleep. And this was the life. And I suppose it must have given you something because I think just to have the easy guided life I wouldn't have done. It wouldn't give, given a man much character in his playing. I'm not sure but it seems to me that all of this difficult experience helps one's

Studs Terkel One of the difficult questions that comes up, Bud, in playing as you do, audiences, a wide variety night after night, the question of creativity and the challenge to it, since it is night after night. This re-creation of that energy, isn't it, to avoid this feeling of

Bud Freeman Boredom.

Studs Terkel What? What is it?

Bud Freeman The one fear you have is that you're going to become bored with your with your own work.

Studs Terkel What happens? How do you avoid that?

Bud Freeman Well, it isn't a matter of avoiding it. It seems to me that after having done it so many years it becomes a habit and something although you have difficult nights as we said earlier, you come on a job and you just don't feel like playing, something about the music happens to make you play.

Studs Terkel So do you rediscover something, say we're about

Bud Freeman Excuse me, you might come in feeling you're going to have your worst possible night and that might turn out to be a very creative night. Some little phrase you hit on will inspire you and that'll carry you through the night. And I think all musicians, if they think this through, will agree this is what happens. There are many nights when you say you're not going to get through. You're just not going to make

Studs Terkel So it is that. Now we come again to another aspect of jazz: the unexpected, the improvisation, because of improvisation, the unexpected sources of energy and of creativity that come there, so we're going to end with "Dinah" and perhaps a word about this. But even when you play "Dinah" so often yet suddenly you discover something in your playing of it.

Bud Freeman I hope so.

Studs Terkel On a different time.

Bud Freeman Yeah. Well, that's right. You'd better, or you're going to be in trouble. There's an interesting thing about "Dinah," I think when I was, before I played, I was about 17. Beiderbecke, the great Bix Beiderbecke, told us about Ethel Waters and "Dinah" was one of her great recordings. And I think that the I fell in love with the tune, because I've been playing it all my life as far as I know. I've been playing it for 47 years. But I try to play it, if I were to record "Dinah" next year, say, I think I'd have a new, a different approach to it, so that it's not always just "Dinah."

Studs Terkel Yeah. You know, I think it's Bud Freeman though, in a different dimension. You point out that "Dinah" was Bud's solo when you were with Ray Noble band back in the '30's that sort of captivated and captured so many people who says, "Who's this guy?" And then there's an introduction here at the very beginning as the man, the liner notes, Herb Sanford of the notes of the album "Compleat [sic] Bud Freeman" writes, "Could only be Bud Freeman. And as you hear something you know it's only Bud, just as when you hear a certain horn you know it's only Louis, only Miles Davis, or only Bechet, and thus it is only Teagarden and thus it is the artist and his hallmark and Bud Freman." We'll end as we began, with music, and there's so many things that we haven't talked about. But we'll let that go for another time.

Bud Freeman Well, we'd need several

Studs Terkel We'd need several weeks, and again if I could just, it's a personal reminiscence on my part. This is almost a cycle, not completed but the end of one cycle, the very first person I ever interviewed on radio after my days as a gangster in soap operas, was you. Were you, was you, you was the first one I ever interviewed. Bud Freeman, who is at the Happy Medium with his colleagues, all of whom are gifted, indeed.

Bud Freeman Studs, can I say something to my two friends?

Studs Terkel Oh, of course.

Bud Freeman Bill Dohler and Russ Morrison, I hope you're listening.

Studs Terkel Yeah, we'll have to check on the Bill Dohler biting the bear or hitting the bear story. I know Bill's a pacifist, but there's a question of retribution in this case. And "The Compleat [sic] Bud Freeman" is the album, Monmouth Evergreen, and what a delight once more, as we hear "Dinah" and Bud Freeman and hail and farewell.

Bud Freeman Thank you.