Most of the musicians who gathered to record this fantastic spiritual jazz record for the Strata-East label on May 24th, 1974 had crossed each other's paths in various musical pairings over the preceding few years. Husband and wife team Dee Dee Bridgewater (vocals) and Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet) had been working together on albums like Frank Foster's "Loud Minority", and Roy Ayers' "Coffy" and "Virgo Red". Ten weeks before the "Freedom Of Speech" session, the couple had been joined in Tokyo by Cecil's brother Ronald Bridgewater (tenor saxaphone) to record Dee Dee's debut album, the beautiful "Afro Blue". Also in the studio on May 24th, 1974 was Donald Smith, (piano, vocals), fresh from recording on his older brother Lonnie Liston Smith's "Cosmic Funk" - on which Ronald Bridgewater had also played percussion. Cecil McBee (bass) was also there - just two weeks before, he'd completed his own Strata East date "Mutima", and in February he'd played on Mtume's "Rebirth Cycle" - with both albums also featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater on vocals. He'd also played on Lonnie Liston Smith's "Astral Travelling".
So 1974 was a huge year for all five of these people. Donald Smith and Cecil McBee were six months away from recording on Lonnie Liston Smith's massive "Expansions", with McBee fitting in a few Pharoah Sanders albums in between.
STAFF COMMENTSMillie says: Billy Parker brings us the best sort of Jazz - upbeat and full of life! The sound greets the ears with orchestrated bliss which all glue together in a perfect array of Jazz Funk.