Chico Freeman opens AACM New York City Chapter, Inc.’s Opening Season October 6

Friday, October 6, Chico Freeman reunites with old friend and music companion, vibraphonist Jay Hoggard (Kings of Mali, No Time Left, Peaceful Heart, Gentle Spirit) along with Kenny Davis on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums for AACM New York City Chapter, Inc.’s opening season concert. “I’m honored to be performing this date, especially because my teacher and mentor, NEA Jazz Master Muhal Richard Abrams invited me.”

October 6, 2017 – 8 PM
AACM New York City Chapter, Inc.
The Community Church of New York
40 E 35th St. (between Park and Madison Avenues)
New York, New York 10016

Chico Freeman Quartet
Chico Freeman: saxophones
Jay Hoggard: vibes
Kenny Davis: bass
Reggie Nicholson: drums

Chico Freeman Equinox – Celebrating the Music and Birthday of John Coltrane opens the 22nd season of Sistas’ Place in Brooklyn

On Saturday, September 23, Chico Freeman EquinoxCelebrating the Music and Birthday of John Coltrane opens the 22nd season of Sistas’ Place in Brooklyn, New York. Equinox is the time or date at which the sun crosses the celestial equator, when day and night are of equal length about September 23rd.

Chico Freeman Equinox features:
Chico Freeman, saxophones
Anthony Wonsey, piano
Kenny Davis, bass
Jarrett Walser, drums

September 23, 2017
9 PM and 10:30 PM
Sistas Place
456 Nostrand Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 398-1766

All About Jazz: Chico Freeman Plus+tet: One of the Best Performances of the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival

Freeman paced a nearly perfect set marked by exquisite writing and a top-shelf supporting unit. “Crossing the Sudan” was a programmatic ride on a camel that morphed into “Freeman,” a stunning feature for the drums of Nasheet Waits. The gospel tinge of “To Hear a Teardrop in the Rain” had pianist Anthony Wonsey digging deep for a masterful display of chops and soul. As a tip of the hat to Pittsburgh’s own Stanley Turrentine, Freeman’s take on “Soft Pedal Blues” spoke to his significance as a talent who has been too long deserving of wider recognition. Vibraphonist Warren Wolf tipped his hat to the great Bobby Hutcherson on the fiery “African Village,” a reasonable conclusion to what was one of the best performances of the festival.

Chris Hovan, All About Jazz

Chico Freeman in Chicago Jazz Magazine: In His Own Words

Thanks Mike Jeffers and everyone at Chicago Jazz Magazine for honoring me with your cover and one of the most in-depth interviews I’ve done!

In 1982, Chicago saxophonist Chico Freeman was a key member of the legendary “Young Lions” concert at Lincoln Center that included other stars-to-be Wynton Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, Paquito D’Rivera, and Bobby McFerrin, among others. Today Freeman merits being called a “master on his instrument,” and has perfected an immediately recognizable approach to music and composition, blending what he has experienced from his past and providing fluidity into a future of infinite musical possibilities.

Freeman amassed a diverse resume, performing R&B, blues, hard bop and avant garde. His collegiate studies in Advanced Composition and Theory at Northwestern University led him to teach composition at the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) Music School, and while attaining his Masters in Composition and Theory at Governor State University, he studied composition with NEA Jazz Master Muhal Richard Abrams. 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.

Chico is a member of the Freeman family, Chicago’s First Family of jazz. His father is the legendary saxophonist Von, and his uncles include guitarist George and drummer Bruz. Although Freeman has adopted the instrument of his father, it was not his first instrument, as he reveals in this exclusive CJM interview.

Chicago Jazz Magazine: Talk a little about what it was like growing up with your father, Von Freeman, and what the jazz scene was like back then.

Chico Freeman: When I was young we had lots of kids on my block. We had one family with fifteen kids, which was great because you hardly had to leave the block to play. During summer, my dad would have rehearsals. He had the piano in the living room, so when on the front porch you could sit and actually look inside the house through the window and see the piano. I remember seeing people like Leroy Vinnegar, Malachi Favors and Andrew Hill. Other Chicago musicians would come and play with the Freeman Brothers band. The band included my uncle George on guitar and my uncle Bruz on drums. They’d set up in the living room and have a rehearsal. We’d have all the windows open because we didn’t have air conditioning and they would start playing. Within minutes, the front porch was filled with kids; we’d have a big party outside with all my friends. The funny thing is, Richard Davis, the bass player, lived across the street from us, and down the street was Frank Leslie, whose auntie was Abbey Lincoln from Chicago. There was always somebody famous hanging around the house. I was just used to musicians coming over. It was really fun. They were just people that I knew as a kid, with my brother and two sisters at the time. That’s what my dad did. My mom took me to the Regal Theater when I was five––it was kind of like the Apollo of Chicago. She took me to see my dad play with Miles Davis, and that was the band with Coltrane, “Cannonball” and Paul Chambers. I remember him standing next to Miles and Coltrane, playing. I’ll never forget that; I can see it clear as day. Ironically, John Coltrane died on my birthday, so there’s kind of a connection there that’s really unique.”


Chico Freeman Plus+tet Headlines the Pittsburgh Jazz Live International Festival

Excited to play the Pittsburgh JazzLive Festival this Sunday with Chico Freeman Plust+tet with Chico Freeman on tenor, Warren Wolf on vibes, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Gregg August on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums The line-up for this almost entirely free festival is off the chain: The Bad Plus, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Roy Ayers, Linda May Han Oh, Allan Harris, Tia Fuller, Sean Jones, Angélique Kidjo, David Sanborn, Hudson and so much more. I’m arriving early so I can get to those late night jam sessions, I’ve heard so much about. We’ll have a blast! Learn more at

Chico Freeman Plus+tet at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola June 7 and 8

I’ll be celebrating my one year anniversary of returning to the States at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola June 7 and 8 with Chico Freeman Plus+tet: Chico Freeman/tenor, Warren Wolf/vibes, Anthony Wonsey/piano, Kenny Davis/bass Nasheet Waits – drums. We’ll be tipping our hat to Bobby Hutcherson, and I’ve got some new music to present to you as well as some of your favorites.

Chico Freeman Plus+tet at An die Musik in Baltimore June 1 and 2

The Chico Freeman Plus+tet makes their debut in Baltimore, Maryland at An die Musik Thursday June 1 at 8 and 10 pm and Friday June 2 at 8 and 10 pm. The stellar group includes Chico Freeman – tenor saxophone, Baltimore’s own Warren Wolf on vibes, DC native sons Billy Hart on drums and Corcoran Holt on bass, plus Anthony Wonsey on piano. We’ll be tipping our hat to the great Bobby Hutcherson who Chico played and recorded with many times. This is the first time I’m playing in Baltimore in more than a dozen years, so I hope you’ll come out and support this incredible group.

An die Musik LIVE!
409 North Charles Street Second Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Chicago Tribune: “Saxophonist Chico Freeman upholds noble family traditions”

“Have you ever ridden a camel?”

The question doesn’t arise often in jazz performances, but it was pertinent Thursday night at the Jazz Showcase, where tenor saxophonist Chico Freeman posed it.

“A horse walks around in 4/4,” explained Freeman, referring to a musical time signature suggesting a steady gallop.

On a camel, however, “the hump gives you an extra something,” he continued, miming the motion of sitting atop the moving beast. “So I wrote this next song because of the rhythm I felt riding a camel.”

And with that, Freeman and his Plus+Tet launched into “Crossing the Sudan,” its slightly off-kilter meter and unexpected syncopations indeed conveying the idea. Add to that his quartet’s arid textures and the exotic harmonies of the tune, both of which evoked “Caravan,” and you had a most unusual centerpiece to a consistently intriguing first set.

Yes, Freeman is very much his father’s son — meaning the fierce individuality of his work reflects that of Von Freeman, one of the most admired Chicago tenor men (he died in 2012, at age 88). But Chico Freeman reflects the spirit more than the letter of the great Vonski’s art, in that Chico Freeman’s sound is cooler, his tone less keening, his delivery not so hypervirtuosic. Or at least that was the case on this night.

At the same time, though, every piece that Freeman performed was built on unusual melodic structures, unconventional phrase lengths and constantly shifting rhythmic syntax. Nothing he played fell into convenient patterns; everything strove to say something different. And that, of course, stands as a Freeman family signature, upheld to this day by the saxophonist’s uncle, 90-year-old guitarist George Freeman (who will join the ensemble on Sunday).

The most serenely effective moments of the set occurred toward the end, with Chico Freeman’s ballad “Dance of Light for Luani.” Dedicated to his daughter, the tune stood out for its sublimely understated melody. Freeman delivered this valentine with throaty low notes and not a hint of sentimentality, saying a great deal with a few, well-chosen pitches. The simplicity and straightforwardness of this music proved disarming.

In this piece, and others, drummer Rudy Royston played a pivotal role, his work ranging from barely hinted pianissimos to tautly controlled fortissimos. More than anyone else in the band, Royston served as Freeman’s foil. The drummer answered Freeman in some passages, challenged him in others, but constantly responded to the emotional contours of Freeman’s statements.

Bassist Kenny Davis offered a warmly lyrical manner throughout, especially in his opening solo to Antonio Farao’s “Free Man” (from Freeman’s “Spoken Into Existence” album). This was poetry in motion, Davis sustaining an unmistakable line even amid fleetly nimble passagework.

What this quartet needed, however, was more sound and presence from pianist Anthony Wonsey. Without a fuller chordal accompaniment, the band couldn’t project as much tone and color as Freeman’s scores demanded.

Wonsey finally found some energy in Freeman’s “Blues Like,” the set’s finale. Freeman hit hard here, too, his wide-open horn calls and crisply articulated runs finding ample support from drummer Royston and bassist Davis.

If these musicians can summon this degree of common cause earlier in their sets, an already strong performance will become that much more striking.

Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Chico Freeman to headline Ballard Jazz Festival, Seattle, Washington

 The Ballard Jazz Festival, Seattle’s most anticipated and community oriented jazz event, will take place May 17-20, and will headline legendary saxophonist, Chico Freeman.

Dubbed trree decades ago as one of the “young lions” of jazz for his participation in recordings with other “stars to be,” such as Wynton Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, and Paquito D’Rivera, Freeman’s career has established him as one of the true modern masters of the saxophone, and jazz composition. Freeman will be featured at the festival finale, saturday evening’s Mainstage Concert, and will be accompanied by the George Colligan Trio, featuring Seattle born and bred musicians Matt Jorgensen, and Evan Flory-Barnes. Opening for Mr. Freeman will be Scenes, the transcendent guitar trio featuring John Stowell, iconic bassist Jeff Johnson, and drummer John Bishop. For this performance they will be joined by Rick Mandyck, a Seattle saxophone legend who after a fourteen year absence, is making his presence felt on the local scene

Spanning four days in the historic Ballard neighborhood, the festival has maintained its community feel throughout it’s history, this year celebrating its 15th edition. Each year, the festival attracts national and international talent surrounded by the best of the Seattle jazz scene. “I want to make sure it’s a local festival, so it sounds like Seattle,” says festival organizer and Seattle jazz impresario John Bishop, “It will be a celebration of that.” Each year, rather than simply bring in marquee talent from around the country, national talent is paired with northwest musicians, creating a great opportunity for musicians and fans alike to mingle. This is rooted in the awareness of what makes a jazz scene vital, whether at the festival, or in clubs throughout the year, that “the hang” is essential, and creates a vibe that is compelling and welcoming. Promoted and staged by Origin Records, the Seattle jazz label operated by drummers Bishop and Matt Jorgensen, this year’s event also celebrates the 20th anniversary of the highly regarded label.

The festival celebrates the multiple musical crosscurrents that constitute the Seattle jazz community, mixing traditional and cutting edge elements. For example, during Friday evening’s jazz walk, within two blocks one can experience the experimentalism of the Tables and Chairs showcase, premier jazz vocalists such as Greta Matassa and Gail Pettis, and brilliant Spanish pianist Marina Albero. This multiplicity of sounds that together form this music we call jazz, is displayed prominently throughout the four day event. For more info visit:


Chico Freeman nominated “Best Jazz/Blues Superstar of the Year” Chicago Music Awards

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.