The Summer Report Part 2: Residency at Cherryhurst House, Houston

  As of a few days ago, I have started a long period of work as artist in residence here at Cherryhurst House in Houston, Texas.

 I will be working on a long term collaborative project with photographer, Dallas McNamara, and, I'm sure a number of great things will be presented as a result of the work and all goes towards an exhibition for sometime toward the heart of 2017.  

    Principally it hinges on ideas of de-modularizing the way that the art forms, that seem the province of one sense or another, are normally put together in a collage type fashion of just going well alongside each other. In this case image, sound and object. The climate unfortunately favors object. 

  This angle could change, of course...check back in later.

  For now, we start with a month long road trip on which I will be collecting and documenting a variety of materials for later composition and sound/silence structural work up the line.  This is very exciting, of course, since it is a rare opportunity to develop things in an unfettered way which hasn't been the case since the stint at CalArts a few years ago.

 Cherryhurst house really is a residence that is also a gallery and so makes for a very comfortable environment to work in.  

  Currently they are setting up to show the fascinating work of Heather L. Johnson,

and I am quite honored to have been asked in, along with such talented folk over here.

Grand Isle at the outset

Grand Isle at the outset

 

 

The Summer Report Part 1: Fermin Muguruza and the New Orleans Basque Orchestra

   This has been such an interesting period, the last few months, that there hasn't even been much posting about it here (but there is plenty of evidence on Facebook.)

     Towards the end of June, I headed out to Barcelona with Ashlin Parker (tpt), Chrishira Perrier (voc.), Devon Taylor (Tba), Paul Thibodeaux (drums), and Robert Walker (tbn).  We were to form the New Orleans Basque Orchestra to back the great Basque artist, Fermin Muguruza, for a tour of the recent album, NOLA¿
     This was the culmination of an fascinating stretch starting Spring 2015 when I was brought on board to produce and arrange a New Orleans based record for Fermin.  That was a great pleasure to be involved in, but really just a preamble to this fantastic tour of Catalonia, Basque country, and even a show near Madrid.  Many great relationships and friendships were formed or tightened, even amongst the great crew coming up from New Orleans, since the diversity was remarkable, and a credit to Fermin who has a great eye for these things and the importance of social balance and how it reflects in music.  The various media from the trip says a great deal.  Here are some images that convey some of the excitement Take a look...

There is quite a bit of video especially on Fermin Muguruza's facebook page.  Here are a few starting with some footage from the sessions back  September last year.

Fermin also makes documentaries and graphic novels.  Above is an example of these related skills.  

From the festival in Basque Country on the French side.  

Bringing a taste of 2nd line to Bilbao.

Film conveying the excitement of a Fermin Performance, here in Barcelona.

The meaningful showstopper, Rage Against the Machine cover

2nd line Barcelona with Maqui.

Interview on 'It's New Orleans: Out to Lunch show' with LPO conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto

Here was an interesting invite- a conversational program about business recorded at Commanders Palace about The Naked Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

You can listen to it on their website here ...

Conductor of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Carlos Miguel Prieto and I, talk about the funny money stuff that goes on with orchestra operation.  
The show is available online at any time.  It airs on WWNO on 5/26 at 1pm and again at 6:30pm.

Carlos Miguel Prieto

Carlos Miguel Prieto

Busoni- From so long ago you'd think we'd be getting it by now.

I looked down and there was just too much promotion afoot.  Must get back to revelations on THE subject...

Some thoughts and stuff then, starting here with Busoni--I'll add more on this later, but for now, since this was more than 100 years ago- could we please stop flogging a dead horse?  You know who you are. The flies are getting unbearable!

"Tradition is a plaster mask taken from life, which, in the course of many years, and after passing through the hands of innumerable artisans, leaves its resemblance to the original largely a matter of imagination."
"The function of the artist consists in making laws, not in following laws ready made.  He who follows such laws, ceases to be a creator."
"So narrow has our tonal range become, so stereotyped its form of expression, that nowadays there is not one formal motive that cannot be fitted with some other familiar motive so that the two may be played simultaneously."
"What we now call our Tonal System is nothing more than a set of "signs"; an ingenious device to grasp somewhat of eternal harmony; a meagre pocket edition of that encyclopedic work; artificial light instead of the sun...
"And so, in music, the signs have assumed greater consequence than that which they ought to stand for, and can only suggest...
"How important, indeed, are "Third," "Fifth," and "Octave"! How strictly we divide "consonances" from "dissonances"--in a sphere where no dissonances can possibly exist!"
 

 

 

Wadada Leo Smith at New Quorum. Also, the new Group: J. Free and the Down-Low-Mon. 9th of May.

It's been so busy that there has been no mention yet of my new operating group- J. Free and the Down Low.  We have had two shows so far and they have gone very well.  I suppose the group is exploring original compositions and arrangements, but also new ways of dealing with the language of developing improvisations.  There are many stages to the rhythmic nature of the music, some masked beneath the surface and some openly manifested in the sound surfaces.  Check the exciting lineup-

Dan Oestreicher- Alto sax/ Bari sax/ Electronics
Jeff Albert- Trombone
Doug Garrison- Drums
Devon Taylor- Tuba
Jonathan Freilich- guitar

Who is J. Free?  You'd have to ask Wadada Leo Smith or Lisa Harris or Gianna Chachere or Damon Locks.

Which brings me to the more important part of this post.  Wadada Leo Smith is coming in to New Orleans to give a presentation on his cycle, Ten Freedom Summers,  about the civil rights movement across the 20th century.  This will be at The New Quorum, on this same evening.  The talk is part of gearing up for a performance on the work in New Orleans later in the year.  The whole thing kicks off at 6:30pm.

Where: The New Quorum- 2435 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119

Other details: 

Trumpeter/composer, 2016 Doris Duke Performing Artist, and former New Quorum resident, Wadada Leo Smith is returning to New Orleans! Join us for a special presentation about his Pulitzer Prize nominated work Ten Freedom Summers, which will be produced in New Orleans. Followed by a short performance by Wadada and additional music by J.Free and the Down Low. Refreshments served.

Ten Freedom Summers is the work of a lifetime by one of jazz’s true visionaries, a kaleidoscopic, spiritually charged opus inspired by the struggle for African-American freedom and equality before the law.

Just added- New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars at Chazfest-4/27/2016

9-10pm

Just confirmed.  Another chance to catch the band and, it's at one of the seasons great events.  The Chazfest

The interviews page on this site has much content from the first Chaz festival.  We will be doing interviews this year since it may well be the last Chazfest.  Updates and reflections must take place!

I will also be appearing with the Valparaiso Men's Chorus out there.

Upcoming shows around jazzfest- less spectacle, more catharsis.

It's that time of year again.  A little more going on and there is a number of interesting performances afoot from this direction.  Check these out!

Thursday April 14th- Tonight- with Blake Amos quartet at Yuki Izakaya (Frenchmen st) 8-11pm.  Blake plays many originals and classics, all heavily Brazilian inflected and it's no joke, he's heavily steeped in that- but also drenched in what was here too.  Simon Lott on drums.  Come by, you might win the Simon Lottery!

Saturday April 16th- with guitarist Carl Leblanc at Casa Borrega 7-10:30pm(Oretha Castle Haley Blvd).  Carl is one of the city's great musicians. Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Sun Ra Arkestra, but then his own thing and signature guitar sound and approach- with intelligence subtlety and rhythm.  All severely lacking much of the time these days.

Thursday April 21st- At Allways lounge 9pm with James Singleton, Scott Amendola, Rob Cambre. Always a pleasure to do new things with new people.  Rob Cambre runs a great new series at Allways and seems to be really going an interesting direction by getting groups whose internal mechanics are frequently vastly different from each other- and yet there is a great deal to feel less isolated about here.  Rob plays guitar. James Singleton, the iconic New Orleans bassist. Scott Amendola- plays with the heavies out west.  These days I often hear things described as musical.  I nod my head as if I know what they are talking about. You'll probably hear that description slung around a lot over hear.  That's because the players care about how they sound and the audience seems to like that.  It's an old story that renews every time. Uninterrupted we like the way music feels...

Friday April 22nd- with James Singleton at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center -9pm (Oretha Castle Haley Blvd). Playing James's music again. Always a great lineup, and it gets more and more interesting and sensitive.  If you missed the show here last year you get another shot now.  It is a great room.  The important sounds linger in the air a little longer.

Sunday April 24th- with The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars at The Old Arabi Bar. 10pm.  Here is one to catch if, like me, you are interested in more alternative scenarios.  Get down to further out old New Orleans neighborhood, closer than you think and see some far out music in an area far squarer than you know.  But, you can still smoke in that bar, and the egregious interruptions of neighborhoods-coming-up isn't distorting the vision.  The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars with the full lineup including Ben Ellman of Galactic, and Glenn Hartman on accordion, Joe Cabral of the Iguanas on bass.  The way we have had it for years now.

Tuesday April 26th- with The Diesel Combustion Orchestra at Open Ears Music Series 10pm- Blue Nile Upstairs (Frenchmen St.)  Dan Oestreicher, the Baritone sax player from Trombone Shorty's band has this smart outfit.  We will fix your normality good and proper, isolate it, and transport straight into an ice castle at the bottom of the Mississippi river.  You will flip.  There's electronics, heavy exotica and exploration that will cause the catharsis to get you into that life that you wish you could slip away into effortlessly.

Friday April 29th- with The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars at Casa Borrega 7-10:30pm(Oretha Castle Haley Blvd). See above.  This is dangerously close to where we really started to catch hold of the city in 1992.  The food is great and the Tequila flows like wine.  This one is going to kill!

Saturday April 30th-with The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Join us. Our set is before Stevie Wonder so don't panic. ANd- the secret is, we are not far away from the main stage.  You will experience the newest thing- THE MEYERS. Standby for the album you have been waiting for.

Casa Borrega on all Saturdays in May too! Come on out! Lineups TBA.

Part 2 of an interview with Josh Cohen and Ryan Scully of The morning 40 Federation

A highly flavorful half hour of very direct discussion with the writers of a certain kind of real down here in New Orleans.  Alex Mcmurray was involved and the whole discussion was conducted at his address.

What is touched upon? What is examined? What was quietly passed over? 

Find out here on the interviews page-

Who are they?  Wikipedia has this to say...

But who needs that resource when you have this one!

The Language of Music: Jonathan Freilich

Before the month is out, I should remember to say a few words about this on the website.

Offbeat put some words in on the subject of the interviews.  Really the first they have printed about my musical endeavors since the 90s.

Laura DeFazio wrote the article.  When she did the interview I had no idea what it was for, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a mention in the current climate.  It was also nice speaking to Elsa Hahn while she shot the portrait pictured here.

Elsa Hahn

Elsa Hahn

Part 1 of an interview with Ryan Scully and Josh Cohen

There has been a long gap since the last interview went up.  Apologies to those who have been requesting more.

We'll kick off the next set with a really great one.  The other parts will follow very soon.

The Morning 40 Federation are a band that has great resonance with a certain swath of New Orleans locals who see in them the embodiment of a certain set of life experiences that very definitely were in fast effect at one time in New Orleans and in a long gone era of a certain way that Bywater used to look.  The reflections from that are still reverberating strongly and the mighty 40s continue on once in a while.  As we find out here, they are still writing.

Ryan Scully is a fascinating music writer that I've been trying to catch up with for an interview since the 90s.  Currently he is also fronting another interesting band, Scully and the Rough 7.

Josh Cohen is a saxophone player and writer for the 40s as well as being crafty in some other areas and, really quite philosophical.  

These folks have amazing insight into the old problem of the correspondence between life and music and, of the folks I have interviewed, they have some of the most unexpectedly profound things to say on the subject.

Alex Mcmurray is often involved in what sometimes becomes a quite multi-layered discussion.

It all happens on the interviews page...

 

As always, it's also available as a podcast on itunes.

The Naked Orchestra rides again. Tonight 10:30PM Blue Nile-downstairs!

Fresh off a refreshing hiatus, with new works, some newer faces and a lot of old friends.  There will be a catwalk!
The full complement will be there:

Jimbo Walsh- conductor
Janna Saslaw- flute/piccolo
Chris Kohl- clarinets
Steve Bertram-Bassoon
Martin Krusche- soprano sax
Aurora Nealand- Alto sax
Rex Gregory- tenor/ bass clarinet
Joe Cabral- tenor sax
Dan Oestreicher- bari sax
John Culbreth-trumpet
Scott Frock- trumpet
Jeff Albert- Trombone
Devon Taylor- Tuba
Nobu Ozaki-bass
Helen Gillet-cello
Carl LeBlanc-guitar
Jonathan Freilich- guitar
Doug Garrison-drums

I'll let you in on a secret.  The Naked Orchestra shows are also a party with some of the most interesting and colorful folks in town. Come over and get down while comparing the key system on bassoons and bass clarinets; the body differences between a cello and a bass, all while pretending to eye the object of your desires so you aren't caught staring hungrily at such things. You wouldn't want to appear over eager.  

 

The Fermin Muguruza record is out!- Go get a copy.

This is a success story already.  We all learned how you say Black in Basque.

Over the summer I produced an album for the legendarysinger and activist, Fermin Muguruza.  It's out and available on Itunes.  It's a collection of his classics done with a gaggle of New Orleans great musicians, playing at their finest.

fermin nola record cover.jpg

On itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/nola-irun-meets-new-orleans/id1059688754

Arrangements by yours truly and I think it is the first New Orleans/ Basque connection (with maybe Zatarain's being the exception.)

Check out the video to get a feel for the killer energy of the project:
 

Stay tuned for the documentary made concurrently with the project.

Europe and Back with Klezmer All Stars Duo

The klezmer All Stars Duo (Glenn Hartman, Jonathan Freilich) made it to Austria, Spain, and back.  A second European trip completed! Shows were-

in Austria:

Klezmore festival, Vienna
Amberner-
 

The Amberner

The Amberner

 


 

 

In Catalunya:

Barcelona
San Feliu de Guixols
Girona
Celra

Girona

Girona

The album is still available!

The album is still available!

Special thanks to our friends out there who made it possible or helped along the way:

Thomas Shudek- King of Malwonia
Albert Mestres- sharp swift booking attacks in Spain
Fermin Muguruza- online support. Black is Beltza!

Back online after some interesting work/ Fermin Muguruza

A couple of months went by very fast in preparation for the Fermin Muguruza recording in New Orleans which I was asked to produce.  Fermin is a great and fascinating Basque singer, documentarian, writer with about a 30 year story in music under his belt.  I think we may have gotten to the first New Orleans/Basque recording ever. And what an interesting development that is!

In passing we learned a lot about Basque things.  Including Zatarain's...

It's worth clicking on the link above  and finding out more about Fermin.  His work has a lot of social import and he put together a fascinating album here, with a great lineup of heavy musicians from all across the New Orleans music world.  Look for that in December.

At any rate, all of this producing and arranging slowed down things like posting more interviews and even posting concert schedules on the website.  back to that, and with more Naked Orchestra things to come and the Joyce Opera ( "what's that? never heard of it. are we starting rumors?")

Big Weekend of Music starting tomorrow night...

Busy time here.

Tomorrow night, 11pm, I will be playing guitar for Los Angeles songwriter, RJ Comer, at House of blues, New Orleans.

RJ Comer

RJ Comer

Saturday night, I will be with my own band at Irvin Mayfield's Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta hotel.  Amazing band.  One of the greatest rhythm section in New Orleans musical history-

Rex Gregory-reeds
James Singleton-bass
Johnny Vidacovich-drums
Jonathan Freilich-guitar

Johnny Vidacovich

Johnny Vidacovich

Original music there of course- and some other items from across the last 150 years of mostly local music.

Sunday I will be at Yuki Izakaya for a little Latin dance party.  We are getting back to the old days of Mas Mamones etc.classic Cuban rhythmic music- 

Hector Gallardo- Percussion
Andy Wolf-bass
Jonathan Freilich-guitar

Sometimes know as Johnny "Guitar Mambo" and His Hot Latin Combo.  Back where things started to get rolling in the Latin scene here.  Right inside the door that Hector always used to play on the street in front of.  And in the Cafe Brasil building.  Hector is also one of the greats.  Authentic Cuban, vegetarian, and impeccable Swiss timing.

Andrew Wolf/ Hector Gallardo

Andrew Wolf/ Hector Gallardo


At Yuki with The Jackals

Tonight at Yuki at 525 Frenchmen St.- 8pm til

These days, The Jackals are rare.   Old friends, greater thanks than the sum of parts.  All that kind of thing.  A wild an unpredictable repertoire with great playing all around.

Alex Mcmurray-guitar,vocals
Joe Cabral-bass, vocals
Jonathan Freilich-guitar
Doug Garrison-drums

Come see the group that started that whole Bacchanal thing.  You might get an interesting new hang going.

We will answer the question- "Is a Jackal an Iguana?"

Playing with Stephanie Nilles and James Singleton. Cafe Istanbul- 9pm 8/18/15

Don't miss! The best thing for your Tuesday night.  Very interesting grouping here in the mellowest mid week listening room in town. The music will be raucous and refined.  

Stephanie Nilles-keys
James Singleton-bass