Chico Freeman nominated for “Best Jazz/Blues Superstar of the Year” for the Chicago Music Awards and his uncle George Freeman is nominated “Best Jazz Entertainer”
Voting is open to the public worldwide Click here to vote. Saxophonist and composer Chico Freeman has been nominated for the Chicago Music Award in the top category of “Best Jazz/Blues Superstar. “I’m very honored and also quite surprised since I only moved back to the United States less than a year ago. For so many people to notice I’m back is very meaningful to me,” says Chico. Voting is free and open to the public worldwide. In addition to Chico’s nomination, his uncle, guitarist George Freeman who turns 90 in April, has been nominated for “Best Jazz Entertainer.” Winners will be announced on March 18, 2017 at the 36th annual Chicago Music Awards and Dance Party to be held at Stephen M. Bailey Auditorium in Chicago. For more information and tickets visit Chicago Music Awards.
Chico Freeman Plus+tet makes their NYC Winter Jazz Fest debut on Friday January 6 at 10:20PM at the Zinc Bar, 82 West 3rd St. New York, NY 10012. Recently he gave some answers to some questions on the minds of a lot of folks.
Is social justice important to you and why?
Social justice to me is really justice for all human beings. Martin Luther King said it best. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Have you been inspired by recent events in the world and here at home to make your music more political or socially-charged?
No I have not and that is because I believe jazz in it’s DNA is political and socially charged. My music is an expression of the times and my view of the world as I believe it is with most if not all jazz musicians and artists in general.
What does the word jazz mean to you and how is it different today in our modern era? Is it still relevant and how so?
I dislike the word jazz. However, for me the term as it is accepted today, it is the search for truth and that truth being who and what the artist is expressing at that and any given moment.
What does Thelonious Monk’s music mean to you? What does it spark in you when you hear it played or play it yourself?
Thelonious Monk’s music is innovative and just as compelling today as it was when he created it. It is an inspiration for me in my composing and improvisational skills. It is a challenge to play and a joy at the same time.
First off, a set by Chico Freeman’s brilliant quartet that surpassed expectations and second, a presentation by the Cookers that somehow fell short of their very best. Long one of jazz’s wanderers – Chico Freeman returned to the United States in May 2016 after more than a decade living in Europe – Freeman, as he reminded us, had been an absentee from London for quite a while and seemed genuinely glad to be back. His latest band, the Plus+tet, has been touring the US behind a new album Spoken Into Existence and this version brought into focus the experienced Chicago bassist Kenny Davis, plus new find pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly and the dynamic young drummer Michael Baker.
“An opening number based on bombast, with Freeman channeling Coltrane in a turbulent solo, Baker out-gunning Elvin Jones in the racket he offered, suggested a hard road ahead. Happily, the set took on a more settled feel with Erica’s Reverie. Named for one of Chico’s five daughters as he told us, this lyrical piece took Freeman’s tenor into softer territory, eloquent and poised, O’Reilly’s perfect piano alongside, the quartet’s intensity building. Freeman is very definitely his own man, a view consolidated with his To Hear A Teardrop In The Rain, this prompting a sumptuous tenor solo, its soulful development recalling Freeman’s roots in Chicago blues. A rousing up-tempo piece to finish and he was gone. Far more than just another Coltrane disciple, Freeman remains an exciting contributor as both soloist and composer. He needs to be heard.
Peter Vacher, London Jazz News
A ballad also stood out in Chico Freeman’s curtain-raiser. The Chicago-raised saxophonist got to the bittersweet essence of “To Hear a Teardrop in the Rain” with unaccompanied high notes and a round, muscular warmth, rooted in the blues. Elsewhere, “Elvin” was inspired by the late drummer Elvin Jones, “Erica’s Reverie” was fugue-like and the closer an up-tempo romp. Sax and rhythm quartets have space to fill, and at this show, Freeman and pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly delivered with unflagging invention and style. Freeman hasn’t played in London for more than a decade, and this imperious set was a welcome return.
Chico Freeman’s quartet shows its leader’s ability to organise as it delivers a stimulating set at Cadogan Hall, according to Ronald Atkins
Odd in a way to encounter Chico Freeman on a bill that also featured The Cookers. His career includes spells with very similar all-star groups, not to mention a long-standing familiarity with rhythm sections sparked by The Cookers’ Cecil McBee and Billy Hart. This was his own all-American quartet, however, with Luke Carlos O’Reilly on piano, Kenny Davis on bass and regular colleague Michael Baker at the drums. It’s perhaps worth mentioning Freeman’s only horn on display this night was the tenor saxophone.
His emergence in Chicago had tended at the start to reflect a connection with the city’s more avant-garde music. Since then, you could say he has espoused traditional values in contemporary fashion. The tonal influence of John Coltrane remains but kept under control, so much so that in certain contexts the sound veers surprisingly close to that of Stan Getz.
What the five numbers played made abundantly clear was the leader’s ability to organise, as witnessed by the piano taking an independent role in the theme statements. The opener, named Elvin after one of Freeman’s previous employers, kicked off in archetypal free fashion rapidly overtaken by a furious drum barrage. It settled into modal improvising, with the tenor growing progressively less agitated and the first glimmerings of a 4/4 beat emerging when the piano took over.
That set the standard for what followed. The lilting Erika’s Reverie began with just tenor and bass, Freeman’s “sheets of sound” being smooth rather than frantic, before again a slither of 4/4 alongside the piano solo, though O’Reilly cannily tended to play across it. Relaxed conclusion, with snatches of Killer Joe breaking through.
Cutting bass lines from Kenny Davis launched the next number, lively and Latinish. A waltz, To Hear A Teardrop In The Rain, began with unaccompanied tenor and continued at a leisurely pace that switched to a rocking 4/4 for the closing blues, the perfect end to a stimulating set.
Saxophonist Chico Freeman has been on a 10-year journey of discovery.
“I always wanted to try to live in another place, besides the United States. I went from Chicago to New York, and I always had it in my mind that I wanted to base myself somewhere else in the world. I wanted to edify myself about other cultures and how people express music relative to their cultures,” he says.
Continue reading “KNKX: The Homecoming of Chico Freeman”
It takes a truly dedicated musician to, after recording many records as leader, move to another part of the world to surround himself around different cultures, people, experiences….just so that he can perfect his craft and become a better person. That’s exactly what Chico Freeman did when he moved to Europe which is where he’s been for the last 10 years. But he’s back with a record that makes a statement that you hear loud and clear.
Continue reading “WBGO: Spoken Into Existence”
After living and working in Europe for the last decade, innovative saxophonist Chico Freeman makes his long-awaited return to the United States in May, with a special two set performance at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City on Thursday, May 19 at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. The full performance will be live-streamed at Jazz.org/live. Marking this auspicious homecoming, the creative and trailblazing artist will celebrate with the domestic release of his tour-de-force album Spoken Into Existence (Jive Music, May 13, 2016). Freeman’s stateside return offers more cause for celebration, as he introduces audiences to his new ensemble: The Chico Freeman Plus+tet featuring pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly, bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Nasheet Waits and exotic percussionist Reto Weber.
Continue reading “Saxophonist Chico Freeman Celebrates Auspicious Homecoming and Release of Spoken Into Existence on Thursday, May 19 at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola”