Money and fame can be impediments to innovation!
Von Freeman always considered his relative obscurity — which lasted nearly until the final years of his career, when the world started to recognize his genius — a blessing. It enabled him to forge an extremely unusual but instantly recognizable sound, to pursue off-center musical ideas that were not likely to be welcomed in the commercial marketplace.
“They said I played out of tune, played a lot of wrong notes, a lot of weird ideas,” Freeman told the Tribune in 1992. “But it didn’t matter, because I didn’t have to worry about the money — I wasn’t making (hardly) any. I didn’t have to worry about fame — I didn’t have any. I was free.”
Freeman used that freedom from commercial pressures to pursue a music that was as unorthodox as it was intellectually demanding, as idiosyncratic as it was deeply autobiographical. In this sense, he represented the quintessential jazz musician, forging a musical voice that was unique to him, an art that was influential but ultimately inimitable.