Freddy V Easier Than It Looks?
It seems as if the more popular something becomes, the less 'realness' and grit there is left to it. This especially holds true with music. Once you scratch below the surface, it becomes quickly apparent that the best and the coolest stuff is unlikely to be found on the charts or on TV, but rather in hip underground clubs, where one discovers players blowing up a storm with fellow heavyweights. Saxophonist Fred 'Freddy V' Vigdor is one such player. His accomplished, but essentially fiery and rootsy, playing has long been regarded as the 'real deal'. Yes, his technique is top drawer, his jazz chops impressive, but it's the relentlessly 'down home' feel, and the full-blooded tone, which has long marked him out as both a crowd pleaser and a musician’s musician.
Working the road as a youngster, playing as a sideman to Matt "Guitar" Murphy (James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Blues Brothers), Fred learned consistency and professionalism. "It didn’t matter if it was a crappy PA, or if you were under the weather, or the crowd just wasn’t into it. Playing with Matt, you had to be able to match his energy onstage every night or you’d get left in the dust”
Fred then continued his apprenticeship in the NYC clubs and the soul, jazz and blues circuit, working both as a sideman to touring stars and also blowing out front with small combos. When Average White Band’s original saxophonist, Roger Ball, quit the (heavily touring) band to spend more time at home, it was Freddy V who he recommended as a replacement. Thus began Fred's decade long membership with the seminal r&b unit which continues to this day. Fred's role as AWB’s up-front soloist, supporting keyboardist and horn arranger has seen him touring clubs, theatres and festivals all over the world.
In 2004, Fred was asked to take over the saxophone duties with vocalist Michael McDonald on the “Rock & Soul Revue” Tour. The vocal legend was so pleased with Freddy's work that he asked him to play on his Motown II collection. Always a capable writer - Fred's tunes have been recorded by not only AWB but also the likes of Grover Washington Jr, Marion Meadows and more - the idea of a solo album was prompted not only by Fred's club experiences, jamming with like minded musicians, but also the public at large. "People kept asking me, 'When are you going to put out your own thing?' But I never set out to be the upfront guy – it took me nine years to get started on the project”
'Easier Than It Looks' may have been a long time in the making but is a debut record that truly reflects Fred's long-standing pedigree as a heavyweight player at the top of his game. .” “We got some folks with incredible résumés," Freddy says proudly. "The guys on this album have played with Prince, Tower of Power, Eart, Wind & Fire, Dave Sanborn and more…I'm thrilled to have them involved in this project." It unashamedly nods to the traditions of those 'back in the day' players that have influenced, and continue to influence, Fred's sound. The album also shifts effortless through the gears, encompassing rootsy blues, exciting and powerful jazz/funk, shimmering melodic soul and more. Every note is carved from marble and, alongside the undoubted sophistication of the production values, it still retains that essential never-to-be-beaten feel of a great ensemble, playing great tunes, with great joy and affection, in a suitably atmospheric club venue. “I’m really proud of the album,” he concludes. “I made a record that I would want to hear and it’s a snapshot of what I’ve been inspired by. It’s my way of passing it on.”