Steve Freund and Gloria Hardiman review…June 10, 2014….

STEVE FREUND AND GLORIA HARDIMAN

SET ME FREE

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 837

YOU GOT ME (WHERE YOU WANT ME)–THAT’S ALL RIGHT–JAMMIN’ WITH SAM–THE WAY YOU LOVE ME–LET ME DOWN EASY–DR FEELGOOD–WELL I DONE GOT OVER IT–NEW ORLEANS HOP SCOP BLUES–THE THINGS I USED TO DO–KIDNEY STEW BLUES–HOMEWORK–KIDDIO–SHOPPIN’ AND SNACKIN’–SWANEE RIVER BOOGIE

The good folks over at Delmark Records have done it again!  Hot on the heels of their re-issue of Queen Sylvia and John Embry’s “Troubles” earlier this year from the Razor label, they have just released “Set Me Free” (also originally on the Razor imprint), the very first recordings of guitarist Steve Freund, keyboard whiz Ken Saydak, and the unbelieveable vocal stylings of Gloria Hardiman!

Steve Freund was born in Brooklyn,  but became a true Chicagoan thru his guitar work on several of his own sets for Delmark, as well as numerous guest spots for other artists.  Gloria Hardiman was literally an unknown when this set was recorded.  All that was for sure was that she possessed one of the toughest, most passionate voices in any genre’, honed thru a lifetime of gospel influences from her family’s church worship.  She was “discovered,” as it were, by the set’s producers at one of Steve’s after-hours gigs, and the seeds for this set were sown.

The music is classic Chicago soul and blues at its grittiest, down-home best.  Gloria’s lead vocals grace nine cuts, while there are two outstanding instrumentals, and Steve takes a turn on lead vocal on “The Things I Used To Do,” with Ken’s barrelhouse piano and Sam Burckhardt’s sax backing.  The set closes on a somewhat unusual note, but it is well worth mentioning for us.  A rare 45 RPM of Ken Saydak ends the set.  He has long been one of our favorites, and is one of those genuine unsung heroes of the Chicago scene.  His “Shoppin’ And Snackin” is ne of the funniest, most politically-incorrect songs we’ve ever heard!  And, Fats Domino’s “Swanee River Boogie” has always been a favorite of ours, and Ken matches its fire and intensty with just him and his 88’s.

Steve and Gloria really turn up the heat, tho.  She sings Jimmy Rogers’ “That’s All Right” from the woman’s point of view, with Steve’s blistering runs and Sunnyland Slim’s piano adding emphasis.  Ron Sorin adds harp on the classic minor-key read of “I can’t do my Homework any more,” and a jazzy version of Brook Benton’s “Kiddio.”

Her gospel influences fired up her two best performances, tho.  She downright testifies as the pleading lover in “Let Me Down Easy,” then gets her groove on over Steve’s West-Side sounding guitar on Aretha’s ode to the ultimate lover, “Dr. Feelgood!”

Obviously, this is a set that we cannot say enough good things about.  Steve Freund has since relocated to the Bay area, but one could tell from this debut he would be a great player, and Gloria Hardiman’s dazzling vocals led to the title of this project, as the power of the blues presented herein will sho’ nuff “Set Me Free!!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the great review, but the harp player’s name is Ron Sorin.

    Reply

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