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Revisiting The Freedom Suite

Freedom Suite - David Brodie



The David Brodie Trio Presents

FREEDOM SUITE (A Socially Distanced Garden Jazz Concert)


Port Royal - 227 Port Royal Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19128

Ticket Information Below




In 1958, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins released the classic album, Freedom Suite, which features the 19 minute title track. One of the first extended compositions for saxophone, this tune features Rollins and his piano-less trio, with Oscar Pettiford on bass and Max Roach on drums.


Between 1956 and 1958, a number of critical Civil Rights-related decisions, actions and counter-responses took place that rocked the nation. Some of these activities include...

    ▪    Governors of Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina & Virginia block school integration.

    ▪    Georgia Senate declare 14th & 15th Amendments to the Constitution null & void.

    ▪    Autherine Lucy, admitted to University of Alabama. Whites riot for days.

    ▪    Ninety black leaders in Montgomery, Alabama are arrested for leading a bus boycott.

    ▪    Alabama Legislature asks for federal funds to deport blacks to northern states.

    ▪    U.S. Supreme Court strikes down segregation on buses nationwide.

    ▪    Four black children enter school in Kentucky under National Guard protection.

    ▪    Southern Christian Leadership Conference formed; Martin Luther King - Chairman.

    ▪    Arkansas governor, Orval Faubus has National Guard block school integration.

    ▪    Civil Rights Act of 1957 signed by President Eisenhower.

    ▪    Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is bombed by Ku Klux Klan members

    ▪    Voter registration officials in Montgomery refuse US Civil Rights Commission.


All across the country, many were amazed by the intensity of these undertakings. Sonny Rollins was inspired by these brewing Civil Rights Movement endeavors and wanted to add his voice to the mix. This decision spawned Freedom Suite.  A year later, Max Roach would join forces with singer/songwriter Oscar Brown Jr. to develop music which would be released in 1960, as the renowned LP, We Insist!: Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite.


As part of the STARVING ARTIST SERIES At PORT ROYAL, The David Brodie Trio will present an engaging evening of live and SOCIALLY DISTANCED MUSIC revisiting this classic tune, Freedom Suite as well as  some original and standard compostions.




David Brodie 1Bassist - David Brodie has performed with some of the world's greatest jazz musicians including Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Potter, Seamus Blake, Steve Wilson, Jeremy Pelt, Grant Stewart and Randy Brecker while performing regularly with some of Philadelphia's finest such as Larry McKenna, Tom Lawton, Dave Posmontier and Victor North. He is the bassist for M'oudswing, a world fusion ensemble with whom he has performed at the Tanjazz Festival in Tangiers, Morocco and at the Festival Mawazine Rythmes Du Monde in Rabat.





Doug Hirlinger 1Drummer - Doug Hirlinger is a Philadelphia based, musician, composer, and educator, who has appeared throughout the United States and Europe with many musicians and ensembles including; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Matt Mitchell, Ralph Bowen, Gene Perla, Joel Frahm and Rudresh Mahanthappa. Doug is increasingly interested in intersections between digital technology, activism, improvisation, and sound/music. In 2018, he completed an artist residency at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts resulting in a 10-piece suite exploring gentrification, inequality, and musical legacy in Philadelphia with collaborators Ursula Rucker, M’Balia Singley, Tim Motzer and John Swana. Doug Hirlinger creates electronic music under the name Man From Nowhere, as well as under his given name.



Victor North 1Saxophonist - Victor North moved to Philadelphia from Girdwood, Alaska, after a year at Mason Gross School Of The Arts at Rutgers University and has been a staple on the Philadelphia Jazz scene for 25 plus years, leading his own groups and working as a sideman. Currently a member of Joey DeFrancesco’sPhilly Trio”, since August of 2018, Victor has performed and/or recorded with Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Elio Villafranca, Charles Fambrough, John Swana, Terell Stafford, Mickey Roker, Duane Eubanks, among others, and recently performed at New York City’s famed, Blue Note Jazz Club, as a  new member of Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir. Victor North can also be heard on Lucas Brown’s recently released CD, Skyviews. Check Out North on our Summer Sounds 2018 Mixtape available for FREE DOWNLOAD: HERE





PJP spoke with the members of the trio, David Brodie, Doug Hirlinger & Victor North about the upcomging concert, Freedom Suite and their music.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Victor North: Playing in a trio format of Tenor, Bass, and Drums is something that I’ve enjoyed exploring for many years not only because of the freedom that it offers but because it tends to draw out the best of the musicians involved. Trying to make songs we love to play sound musical, interesting and also fresh somehow is some thing that always takes us in some cool directions and because the three of us have played together in so many other settings over the years coming together as a trio has felt very natural.


David Brodie: Lately I've been practicing a lot with the bow, playing Bach in order to improve my consistency in sound and to expand my ear when playing counterpoint. I have recently sought pianoless ensembles for the freedom they provide. I tend to be drawn to music made by small groups where each element can be heard clearly and where the emphasis on sound is highlighted. 

Doug Hirlinger: I’m currently listening closely to myself about exactly what my direction is. I have a lot of interests that pull me in various directions and I tend to go all in when I enter a creative rabbit hole. I’m interested in groove, vibe, patterns, repetition, texture, forms/structures for improvisation, the element of surprise, polyrhythms, breaking rules, interfacing digital tools with the drum set, using algorithms, code, chance, words, syllables, and rhythmic wordplay to determine musical events and attributes, and not shying away from activism or making a non-musical statement with my work when moved to. 

David Brodie 2PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


David Brodie: All the normal bass heros are a huge inspiration to me, now and always. Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Ron Carter are the holy trinity in a sense.  Bob Cranshaw, Jimmy Garrison, Charlie Haden, George Duvivier, Israel Crosby. The list is long. I also love bassists of my generation such as Larry Grenadier, Ben Street, Christian McBride, and Ben Wolfe. Too many to mention.


Doug Hirlinger: Art museums, words, colors, shapes, birds… Elvin, Tony, Monk, Miles, Trane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie, McCoy, Philly Joe, Jeff Tain Watts, Carlton Barrett, Paul Motion, Brian Blade, Steve Jordan, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Tim Berne, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, Stockhausen, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Ilhan Mimaroglu, Edgar Varese, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, RZA, J-Dilla, Havoc, Dr. Dre, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Autechre, Los Muñequitos De Matanzas, Music of the Baka People in Cameroon, Nikhil Banerjee, Bach...  AND so many friends, colleagues, and living musicians, composers, improvisors, and artists of other disciplines. 


Victor North: Of all of my saxophone influences, the ones that have influenced this particular kind of trio playing for me would be Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson, though so many others spring to mind like, George Coleman, Joe Farrell, Stan Getz, Hank Mobley and of course Charlie Parker.


Like a saxophonist, guitarist, Grant Green doesn’t play any chords but he created so much music by the way he interacted as part of the rhythm section, so I try and keep that approach in mind and play like I’m “in the rhythm section” too.


PJP: Tell us about your upcoming concert, the Freedom Suite and what inspired this choice and this time?


Original Freedom Suite Album CoverDoug Hirlinger: Victor and David are among some of the first musicians I met when I moved to Philly for the first time in 2001. I count them as old friends now. There’s a since of freedom and playfulness for me when we play together within the boundaries of standards and the “straight-ahead” format. We’ve started to build a bit of repertoire together and often with trumpeter Elliot Bild as well. That repertoire came to include Sonny Rollins’ Freedom Suite, offered to the group originally by David. When determining what to play this month Sonny Rollins’ recent 90th birthday contributed to my own desire to include it - as a tribute to a national treasure. The suite possesses a sense of freedom and is a great vehicle for us to get to that freedom we get to when playing together. 


David Brodie: As Doug mentioned, we performed Freedom Suite along with the great young trumpet player Elliot Bild earlier this year and we found it to be a beautifully open piece- one we could play with respect for the original recording and still put our own stamp on. I did some digging into great recordings done without piano and remembered it. Of course the value of freedom itself is central to the music we make and the vulnerability we all feel in this time due to Covid and, of course, the political moment we are enduring makes the celebration of freedom as relevant and important as ever.  


Victor North: This was music that we really enjoyed playing as a quartet with a really great young trumpeter, Elliot Bild, and this is such an extremely important time to be considering, thinking and talking about freedom in our society today. Freedom of expression and of the individual has always been at the center of Americas original art form known as, Jazz, and this piece by Sonny Rollins has never been more relevant than it is today.


Doug Hirlinger 2PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


David Brodie: I love to close my eyes when listening to any concert, so that's one suggestion.  Always come to hear music with an open mind and with the goal of finding calm and peace. I feel like we are always too distracted by our devices and our stresses, and that the simple act of stopping and being with the music and with the people gathered has tremendous value. Music can be a beautiful vehicle to meditation and free thought. I would love it if people came away from our show feeling as though they had a chance to pause and to savor the joy of simply being alive and at peace.


Doug Hirlinger: Withhold expectations of what you think music should be. Witness how we interact as people and musicians. Focus on each instrument separately, the group sound as a whole, and how each instrument fits with the others. Are there patterns, shapes, forms? Check out the sound as texture, as color.Rinse and repeat often with as music as possible.  And with this concert’s music we’re improvising within a cyclical loop. Can you find it?

Victor North: Well I believe that this concert is BYOB AND it’s outdoors, so..relax with your favorite “beverage” of choice, listen to the three way conversation that is going on and to enjoy the ride.


Victor North 2PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Victor North: You make that sound so easy, but I haven’t come up with anything better that I could be doing, and trust me, I’ve been wracking my brains for years! Seriously, I love the music so much that I have to play it. It is the process by which I make sense of the world in which I live. When I no longer have the physical ability to play, I  suppose that will be the end of it.

Doug Hirlinger: Good question! Around the age of 13, before I could understand much of anything, I fell in love with recordings from this tradition. This followed fascinations and obsessions with classic rock, hop-hop, and metal. Ultimately it was the colors, harmonies, swing, improvisation, form, freedom… and a little mo better blues helped seal the deal back then! (I won’t sell it!) Then I started going out in St. Louis to find the music and I found kind and generous people ready to share with me. And I witnessed the music rather then just hearing recordings. Experiences in high school, then NYC after I moved there, then Philly after I moved here kept me attached. After a while it’s just something you must continue to do.  


David Brodie: Jazz has always been my music. Call it an obsession. For me the sound of these instruments and the feeling of swing in particular never gets old. I love other music too, but jazz is like my native language. 









The David Brodie Trio Presents

FREEDOM SUITE (A Socially Distanced Garden Jazz Concert)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th, 2020 at 6PM  (rain date Friday, September 25)






You can keep up with DAVID BRODIE'S creative activities by checking him out on FACEBOOK,


Keep up with DOUG HIRLINGER'S creative activities by checking him out on YOUTUBE, INSTAGRAM, or via his WEBSITE.


Keep up with VICTOR NORTH'S creative activities by checking him out on INSTAGRAM, or via his WEBSITE.




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The Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of CultureWorks | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.



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