Musician, Composer, Leader, Producer
1 July 2013 — Chico Freeman, the multi-reedman, keyboard artist, composer and producer embodies the intent of jazz by finding new avenues of expression that embrace the heritage and tradition of the music. Many critics have compared him to the greats in jazz history, but the proof, beyond arguable opinion, is in the fact that he has played and recorded with some of the most innovative musicians in the world. Few artists can equal his list of musical associations: Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Charles Mingus, Jack DeJohnette, Art Blakey, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Hank Jones, Freddie Cole, Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Roy Haynes, Von Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Billy Hart, Lester Bowie, Famadou Don Moye, Cecil McBee, Kirk Lightsey, John Hicks, Mal Waldron, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Eurythmics, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Art Blakey, Sting, and many others. From South America to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, Freeman has performed and recorded with such Latin greats as Tito Puente, Machito, Irakere, Arturo Sandoval, Celia Cruz, Giovanni Hidalgo, Paulinho DaCosta, Nana Vasconcelos, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri and Puerto Rico’s famous El Gran Combo.
Born into a musical family, his father Von Freeman is the legendary tenor saxophonist, and his uncles George and Bruz play guitar and drums respectively. Freeman earned a mathematics scholarship to Northwestern University, and played trumpet in the school jazz band. He quickly learned that his heart was elsewhere, and eventually studied the tenor saxophone 8 to 10 hours a day until confident enough to challenge the sax section. He switched to a music major, and a great tenor player was born. He graduated with a degree in music with proficiencies in saxophone, trumpet, and piano.
Following studies in advanced composition and theory, he began teaching elementary and intermediate courses at the Chicago-based AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) School of Music. While completing a Masters Degree in Composition and Theory at Governors State University, his memorable performance at the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival in South Bend, Indiana, with the Governors State’s Jazz Band won Freeman awards as “Best Soloist”, “Best Saxophonist”, and a tour of Brazil with the winning group.
Although jazz was the first music Freeman was exposed to, many of his early professional gigs were at Chicago clubs with such blues artists as Memphis Slim, and Lucky Carmichael. Freeman went on to play with pop and R & B greats The Temptations, Michael Jackson, The Four Tops, Jackie Wilson, The Dells, The Isley Brothers, and The Eurythmics.
After arriving in New York , he immediately began working with Jeanne Lee, Mickey Bass, John Stubblefield, and Cecil McBee. Through apprenticeships in New York and abroad with such innovators as Elvin Jones, Don Pullen, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, and Jack DeJohnette, Freeman developed his own group and rapidly rose to prominence with his energetic and exploratory style.
A legendary concert at Lincoln Center, by The Young Lions, a group critics hailed as the brightest hopes of jazz in the 1980′s – Chico Freeman, Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, Kevin Eubanks, Anthony Davis, and others – produced an album on which Freeman plays nearly every cut. His 14-minute composition “Whatever Happened To The Dream Deferred?” was called “one of the best of the album” by the New York Times.
When superstar bands were being organized by promoters in Europe, Freeman brought together The Leaders – an all-star sextet of internationally recognized bandleaders. The group, consisting of Cecil McBee, Kirk Lightsey, Lester Bowie, Arthur Blythe, and Famadou Don Moye, set the standard for eclectic and innovative music from a band comprised entirely of composers.
During the 150 year anniversary celebration of the invention of the saxophone by Adolphe Sax, the band Roots was formed. This band consisted of internationally known saxophonists Nathan Davis, Benny Golson, Arthur Blythe, and Chico Freeman. Adding Buster Williams (bass), and Winard Harper (drums), this band is still touring the world, and delighting audiences with their unique arrangements, and brilliant improvisation.
With the band Squeezeband, Freeman and colleague Reto Weber continue to push the envelope of what is happening in music. This band features seasoned professionals and younger players in a wonderful mix or world music, Latin rhythms, African heritage, and Hip Hop energy incorporating traditional jazz sensibilities and instrumentation, with Human Beatbox and Vocal Percussion. It is music that makes you want to move, and bridges the gaps between generations. It truly brings jazz to the forefront of music, and introduces it, yet again, to another age of listeners.
Chico Freeman’s musical journey has been one akin to that of an alchemist, providing the Midas touch to not only his projects, but also helping to create gold for others within the jazz, rhythm & blues, pop and world music musical realms.
He is currently co-producing a new cd with Jan Pulsford for Estelle Kokot, a wonderful South African born vocalist. He is also touring with “The Chico Freeman 4tet, “The Elvin Jones Project” and the group “Squeezeband”.
It’s no surprise that Freeman’s latest project, The Chico Freeman 4tet, is one of his most completely realized musical excursions. He successfully blends all that the artist has experienced from his past, while providing fluidness into a future of infinite musical possibilities.
What Freeman’s group has concocted is a fine blend of sound elements incorporating all music that has permeated through its leader’s imagination.
“I remember Lester Bowie had a unique name for his style of music. He called it avant pop. Well, I don’t have one word to describe my music, but it has the potential to add other ingredients to it. Some people will call it world music because it takes from various world cultures. It reflects all of my world travels and all of my musical experiences up to now.”
“My objective is to explore new worlds, and I don’t want to be limited by categories. The only limitations I place on myself are the limitations I place on my own imagination. And within that realm, there are none.”
National & International Tours
|Elvin Jones||Jack DeJohnette||Don Pullen|
|Sam Rivers||Kip Hanrahan||Sun Ra|
|George Gruntz||John Hicks Sextet||Cecil McBee|
|Chico & Von Freeman||Chico Freeman/Arthur Blythe Quintet||Chico Freeman Quartet|
International Jazz Festivals
|Montreux, Switzerland||Nancy, France||Montreal, Canada|
|North Sea, Holland||Pori, Finland||Molde, Norway|
|Capitol, U.K.||Moers,Germany||Perugia, Italy|
|Madrid, Spain||Marseilles, France||Toronto,Canada|
|San Diego, California||Kool Jazz Festivals||JVC Jazz Festivals|
|Berkley, California||Kennedy Center||Grenoble, France|
|Wiesen, Austria||Brussels, Belgium||Moscow, Russia|
|Yugoslavia||Eddie Moore/Oakland, CA|
|The Young Lions||Lincoln Center|
|Chico Freeman In Concert||Carnegie Hall|
|Elysee, La Vilette||Command Performance – Francois Mitterand|
|New Morning||Tenth Anniversary|
|Roots||Town Hall – JVC New York|
|Chico Freeman & Guataca||Orchestra Hall – Chicago, IL|
|Playboy Jazz Festival-Cosby All Stars||Hollywood Bowl – Hollywood, CA|
|Chico Freeman w/ Orchestra||Megaron Musikis – Athens, Greece|
Television & Videos
|MTV – Annual Music Awards||The Eurythmics|
|Burger King Super Bowl||commercial|
|Jazz A Paris||The Leaders|
|On Tour In Marseilles||Chico Freeman||TF1|
|Live At Ronnie Scotts||Chico Freeman||Wadham Films|
|The Leaders||The Leaders||Film Francais|
|Salute To The Saxophone||Roots|
|Mahogany (w/ Diana Ross & Billy D. Williams)||Sydney Lumet|
|Chico Freeman & The People||Lech Kowalski|
|Rock Soup||Lech Kowalski|
|East of Paradise||Lech Kowalski|
Commissions and Film Scores
|“Evolution Of A People”||Suite for SDR German Radio Orchestra|
|“Jazz In The Classroom”||Video Score|
|“Rock Soup”||Film Score (Golden Gate Critics Award)|
|“Love’s Fire”||Theatre Score (The Public Theatre, NYC)|
|“Andre’s Lives”||Film Score|
|“Happy End”||Film Score featuring Audrey Totou|
|New York Jazz Award|
|Stereo Review Record of The Year – The Outside Within|
|Bicentennial Exhibition Award, History Of Black Music in L.A.|
|Selmer-Paris Saxophones||Logic Audio|
|Vandoren Reeds||Synthophone MIDI Saxophone|
|Friend of Yamaha Piano||LP (Latin Percussion)|
|AMT (Applied Microphone Technology)|
Jazz Educational Projects
|Jazz In The Classroom||Lecturer|
|National Endowment for the Arts||Panelist|
|The New School||Professor|
|University of Michigan||Master Classes & Workshops|
|Selmer||Master Classes & Workshops|
|The Styles Of Jazz||Ebony Man Magazine|
|Musicians At Night||The New York Times Magazine|
More info on Chico Freeman
• Special guest on Bill Cosby’s CD “Live at The Blue Note”
• Composed film scores, some that have included acting roles. Most recently he composed the music for the film “Sue” which received rave reviews at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals. Composed the original score and produced the soundtrack for the documentary, “Andre’s Lives”. Previewed at Lincoln Center, NYC.
• Composed theatre scores – most recently “Love’s Fire” by Ntozake Shange, which premiered at the Public Theater in New York following a six-month US tour.
• Co-Producer and musical director for Keith David’s (Armageddon w/Bruce Willis and Showtime’s “The Tiger Woods Story”) live show.
• Producing CD’s with both established and new artists – most recently Estelle Kokot, Arthur Blythe’s “Night Song”, Athina – “Tell Me The Truth”, Tinatin.
• Recording project from Half Note Records. “Von & Chico Freeman, Live at the Blue Note, Special Guest Dianne Reeves”.
• Bill Cosby’s Superstar Band, at Playboy Jazz Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA.
• Special Guest on Bill Sims’ CD on Warner Bros Records.
• Guest Artist on a nationally syndicated TV Show.
• Upcoming film projects, both acting and scoring.
• Fashion Image & Beauty Awards, Featured Artist & Presenter, along with “Boys II Men”, and “Keith David”, to be covered by BET, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight and E! Entertainment.
• Featured Guest at “The Blue Note Anniversary Celebration Tribute to Dizzy Gillespie”, NYC.
• Special Guest with The McCoy Tyner Trio, The Blue Note Jazz Club, NYC., “Chico Freeman & Guataca” with Special Guest ‘Candido’, SOB’s NYC.
• “Chico Freeman & Guataca” European Tour.
• Co-Leader and Composer for a new international project “Legacy” which features the All-Star Offspring of Legendary Musicians. It features Chico Freeman son of Von Freeman, T.S. Monk, son of Thelonius Monk, Charnett Moffet, son of Charles Moffet, Kenny Drew Jr., son of Kenny Drew and an internationally acclaimed vocalist, TBA.
• Freeman is excited about his contribution to a sound museum in New York City commissioned by Engine 27. Freeman is one of 25 artists selected to contribute to the project out of more than 500 considered musicians. He has been allowed to create a piece without any constraints or limitations. The project should be on display in June.
• Freeman and his group performed at Orchestra Hall in Chicago in tribute to his father, legendary jazz tenor saxophonist and mentor Von Freeman. A Chicago street was named in honor of Von Freeman.
• He is touring Europe with his his “Chico Freeman 4tet”, Squeezeband and other projects soon to be unveiled.