Episode 6 -- Ron Free

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The focus in this installment is on Ron Free, a musician considered the ‘house drummer’ at the Loft. (Originally aired November 21, 2009)

Free tells us how he lived then, barely getting by, staying on Gene Smith’s couch for months at a time, playing jazz every night.  He relates his story of drug addiction and his eventual realization that if he didn’t leave NY he might succumb completely to the addict’s life.  We learn that these tapes are the proof for him that he did play well, that he did live a life aside from drugs — that he did not ‘invent’ his own story.  We hear some of the tapes featuring Free.  With Ron Free, Jim Hall, Steve Swallow, Jimmy Stevenson, Mose Allison, other musicians who knew him and played with him.

The Jazz Loft Project Radio Series was supported in part by a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities; and by an award from The National Endowment for the Arts.


Comments [6]

Herbert "Bubba" Osburn from Charleston, SC

I recently had the joy and privilege to host Ronnie while he was in Charleston for a book signing and closing night of the JAC Jazz series at McCrady's. It was wonderful to "re-meet" my uncle again as I have not been able to spend any time with him in many years. We stayed up 'till 2 am the first night recalling old stories. He even gave the 12 yr old boy down the hall a "Free" drum lesson the next day. If only the kid knew he learned something from the best jazz drummer in the world! Ron's body may have slowed a bit with age, but his mental acuteness and drumming capabilities only get better with age. Thanks again Ronnie for spending time with us. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jun. 25 2010 09:44 AM
margaret myers watson from Leesburg, VA

John Smith, you can buy 2 just released cds:Royce Campbell Trio

Royce Campbell Trio

Both have Ron Free on is interesting hearing the musicians stories; you can but the CD and hear the whole thing. Recorded Dec. 2008

Apr. 17 2010 11:28 AM
John Smith

I feel that this series is a massive tease. Why go on and on about the scene and the tapes and then not even include one full song without commentary over the top of it? Don't get me wrong, it's great hearing the interviews with these guys, and the commentary is interesting. But, the whole point of the thing is the jazz tapes, let us listen to some of the jazz!

Apr. 12 2010 03:24 PM
margaret watson from Leesburg Va 20176

I was a naive jazz groupie in the late 50s and loved every minute of it. I thought the guys all wore sunglasses because of the lights. All the musicians at the loft and everywhere were easy going(???) and could not have been nicer. I cherish the introduction to the world of jazz,which would not have happened if not for Ronnie Free and the loft.

Nov. 24 2009 09:29 PM
Michael Seiwert from Hamburg/Germay

I'm really fascinated by this radio series (eagerly awaiting the 7th episode) and the Jazzloft Project as a whole! Please, please continue this excellent series! Kudos to all involved!

Nov. 22 2009 06:01 AM

All the segments have been excellent; this is the best so far. Ron Free is eloquent, and brutally honest.

Nov. 21 2009 05:25 PM

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