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Chico Freeman

Instrument: Saxophone | AMT Products Used: LS

“If you love your sound on your instrument, then your instrument will love your sound on your mic. It’s your natural sound, amplified. Mic me baby – AMT!” – Chico Freeman

If you love your sound on your instrument, then your instrument will love your sound on your mic. It’s your natural sound, amplified. Mic me baby – AMT!

Chico Freeman – Woodwind Recording Artist, Producer, Composer

(Chico Freeman In forward Motion)

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. It’s no surprise that Freeman’s latest project, Chico Freeman y Guataca “Oh, By The Way…”, is one of his most completely realized musical excursions. The critically acclaimed CD successfully blends all that the artist has experienced from
his past, while providing fluidness into a
future of infinite musical possibilities.

In the parlance of the street Guataca describes one with “big ears:” on who spiritually hears, immediately, and knows his place within the music.
Click here to meet the band members

What Freeman and his seven-member ensemble, Guataca, have concocted is a fine blend of sound elements incorporating all music that has permeated through its leader’s imagination. “What I did with this with this album is utilize elements of jazz, r&b and hip-hop on an Afro-Cuban basis, with a flamenco and middle-eastern flavor, ” Freeman says about “Oh, By The Way…” Emphasis was placed on rhythm and melody, with some focus on harmonics, Freeman says. “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.”
Although Freeman is at the helm of “Oh, By The Way…”, a culturally diverse group of excellent musicians also help steer the vision of this eclectic album. The musicians include Hernan Romero, flamenco guitar; Hitlon Ruiz, piano; Avery Sharpe, acoustic and electric bass; Terreon Gully, drums; Pibo Marquez, congas/percussion; Chembo Corniel, congas/percussion; and Akil Dasan, rhythm vocal.

Freeman recently completed a stint at the Blue Note Las Vegas jazz club. But, Freeman  doesn’t want to be identified as a jazz musician per se. He likens his musical approach to that of a spaceship pilot who has available to him all elements of good music. His mission is to find new ways to utilize those sounds.

“My goal is to explore new worlds, and I don’t want to be limited by categories. I don’t want to be told that I can’t go into other categories. The only limitations I place on myself are the limitations I place on my own imagination. And within that realm, there are none.”


Last year, Freeman shared the same bill with Chaka Khan on several European stops and this has led to ongoing talks of possible future projects with Chaka Khan.

Chico Freeman has several other hot projects on the horizon besides promoting his fluid “Oh, By The Way…” CD. Freeman is excited about his opportunity to create a multi-channel sound installation at Engine 27. Freeman, one of 20 artists selected from more than 220 applicants in 2002, will record and develop a 16 channel composition where
the music is ‘spatialized’, moving freely from speaker to speaker throughout the 80′ gallery space. Engine 27, the preeminent sound venue in New York City pushes the boundaries of contemporary music creation and presentation with interactive, multi-channel sound. The work will be on display in June of 2003.

Due to a successful week at the Blue Note Las Vegas jazz club, Freeman is schedule to perform at the Blue Note in New York late winter and in spring 2003.

On October 4th, Freeman and his group will perform at the Orchestra Hall in Chicago in tribute to his father, legendary jazz tenor saxophonist and mentor Von Freeman. A Chicago street will be named in honor of Von Freeman. During this time, Chico will make an in-store appearance at the Jazz Record Mart.

Beginning November 5th through November 18th, Freeman and Guataca will be touring
Europe in support of the great response overseas to “Oh, By The Way…” The album was released in Europe in April, and has since garnered many requests for Freeman to tour in support of the CD.
On November 19th thru January, while in Europe, Freeman will perform at various dance
clubs with musician/DJ Terry Burrus. The tour will provide club listeners with remixed
versions of selected songs from “Oh, By The Way…” In the New Year, Chico Freeman
along with father, Von, will grace WBGO’s calendar (Living Legends of the Tenor Saxophone).
In spring of 2003, the U.S. and Canada will get a taste of Freeman’s “Oh, By The Way…Tour.” And in the summer, Freeman and Guataca will return
to Europe for the festivals with stops at Lugano, Montreaux and the North Sea.
And finally, continuing his frantic pace in supporting all forms of art and music, Freeman is hard at work on a project with African musicians from Mali, Senegal and Cameroon.
It will be a joint-African and African-American project, with an expected world tour, Freeman says. He will serve as a co-producer along with composer of several songs on the project. Freeman and other participants are recording in France.

Chico Freeman, the multi-reedman, keyboard artist, composer and producer embodies jazz by finding new avenues of expression that embrace its heritage and tradition.
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 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 saxophone player, 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 eight to ten hours a day until confident enough to challenge the sax section. He switched to a major in music 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 Camichael. Freeman went on to play with pop and R & B greats The Temptations, The Four Tops, Jackie Wilson, The Dells, The Isley Brothers, and The Eurythmics.

After arriving in New York in the 70’s, he immediately bean 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 in June 1982, by The Young Lions, a group critics hailed as the brightest hopes of jazz in the 1980’s – Chico Freeman, Wynton Marsalis, Paquito Urivera, 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.

In 1986, 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.

In 1991, 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 his Afro-Cuban Band Guataca, featuring Angela Hagenbach (special guest vocalist), Hilton Ruiz (piano), Romero (flamenco guitar, vocals), Avery Sharpe (bass), Mark Colenburg (drums), and Pibo Marquez (congas, djembe, percussion, vocals), Freeman continues to push the envelope of what is happening in music. This band features seasoned professionals and younger players in a wonderful mix of world music: Latin rhythms, African heritage, and hip hop energy incorporating traditional jazz sensibilities and instrumentation. It is music that makes you want to move, bridging the gaps between generations. It truly brings improvisational music to the forefront, and introduces it, yet again, to another age of listeners.