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:

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

The Amberner

The Amberner




In Catalunya:

San Feliu de Guixols



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

4 Naked Orchestra concerts in New Orleans this July

You can catch the orchestra 4 times this month.  

3 shows at The Old U.S. Mint on Friday 10th, 17th, and 24th of July from 2-3pm.
1 Show at Snug Harbor on Sunday 12th of July.
It's going to be fascinating and entertaining no matter what.

New Naked Orchestra website coming soon!

Tom Paines house concert yesterday at Mr John's Tropical Paradise

Why tell you late?  Because it is a nice scene for playing really acoustic music that I didn't know about.  You might find out about one of them here...

Anyway, the Tom Paines made their first appearance in years, and I enjoyed it.  The shrimp etoufee also rocked.

That record is still available by the way.  get it on Alex Mcmurray's website...

And while you are here, have a sample...

Two shows this week-trio at Yuki tonight; Maple Leaf with Mike Dillon Friday

Have two interesting hits this week:

Tonight with a Trio at Yuki on Frenchmen St at 8pm.

Joe Cabral-bass/vocals
Jonathan Freilich- guitar
Doug Garrison- drums

Expect a Jackal-ish guest and then expect the unexpected...

Friday will be at the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak St in Uptown New Orleans.  Show starts @10pm.

Mike Dillon is a fascinating multi instrumentalism who has some unbelievably exciting approaches to things like vibraphones and Marimbas.  There's a punk thing, a surf thing, a Jazz thang, a Metal thing, a Funk thang, a surf thing.  Lot's of things and thangs.  A good deal of tings, dings, damns and dangs.

Free Downloads and -New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars hit the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine

Our 2015 Jazzfest performance was written about by David Fricke over at Rolling Stone magazine.

Very positive stuff and mentions "the Yiddish Meters" tunes.  Working title for a bunch of material I cooked up a little while ago that is on the way to being an album.  Those downloads mentioned are on the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars website or Soundcloud. Or, how about I just put them here too.

Incidentally, that grocery store pic is of my grandfather's grocery store before he went into the plastic bag business.  Check the apron- "Freilich's pure foods"

Last fest time appearance-Playing tonight at Casa Borrega

Tonight 7-10pm: Afro-Cuban music and other musical cousins.  What a band for it-

James Singleton-bass
Hector Gallardo- percussion
Eric Lucero-trumpet
Jonathan Freilich-guitar

The band knows what they are doing and the food is good!  Come out.  Casa Borrega is a wonderful venue across the street from Zeitgeist at 1719 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

See you there for a fine rhythmic time.


Playing with James Singleton's Force Majeur at Zeitgeist

We played a slamming show at Zeitgeist last Friday and this will be a repeat.  If you've had enough of the same old same old you need to make this.  It's a fascinating art space also.  Last week the drummer was different- the great, (that's what I'll call him now that i've played with him) Bruce Golden.  This time the lineup is:

Rex Gregory- woodwinds
Brad Walker- saxes
Jonathan Freilich-guitar
James Singleton- Bass
Justin Peake- drums
Mark Southerland- odd tubing somehow related to the old instruments in a scary way.

James tunes are something else and here he has them approached in quite a different way.

Don't be a square, get over there.  There's too much zombie conformity around the fest these days.  Come out.  We have the fucking antidote!


Sound Observatory New Orleans presents Naked In Wonderland

And this is... now-NOW- TODAY!!!


What is SONO?  If you are interested in music you need to know.

After a great weekend of playing interesting music at an interesting musical time of year, it is time for me to announce the most important musical event of the week for you to support...

The Naked Orchestra and some others including Brian Coogan(Pretty Lights) and Zoe Boekbinder will be at 3405 Royal St for the Naked in Wonderland event.  Glenn Hartman of The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars will do a solo Accordion Set from atop the trees.

The Orchestra will play at 7:30 but there is much fine entertainment and crawfish with the price of admission before that.  Click that SONO link above for more information and ticketing.

The best bartenders in NOLA will be serving.

We all demand your fun and free, embodied, spirits in attendance.

Jimbo Walsh- conductor

Old winds
Janna Saslaw-flute, piccolo
Chris Kohl 
Steve Bertram-bassoon


Martin Krusche-(magnetic ear)
Ray Moore
Rex Gregory
Joe Cabral
Dan Oestreicher
Brad Walker


Jeff Albert-trombone
Steve Bernstein-trumpet
Devon Taylor-tuba


Jonathan Freilich-guitar/bandleader
Carl Leblanc-guitar
Robin Sherman-bass


Dave Capello
Doug Garrison

Great things at UNO

It has been hard over the couple decades or more, since arriving in New Orleans, to find much if any dialogue about what is new and most up to date in contemporary music thinking, let alone having that dialogue opened up to the freshest minds around town.  It was invigorating this weekend to catch up on what Yotam Haber and Henry Griffin and others had been putting together for student composers at UNO.

Professor Yotam Haber is a very interesting composer who gets novel and beautiful compositions played all over the world.  It is a great thing that UNO has a fellow of this capacity in its music program- which, especially on the jazz side has been excellent- but Yotam Haber offers things for a whole other musical direction to be available to a city that has not often seen the possibility of training or even exposure to things in these directions.  His enthusiasm and vitality for the subject is palpable, and clearly inspiring for the students whom he champions in a great way.

On Friday we played the film scores composed by Yotam Haber's students, live, along with silent movies selected by Henry Griffin and Laura Medina. Griffin is massively knowledgeable about film and had selected some of very wonderful key films from the silent era for the students to score.  A great deal of effort went in to getting these pieces played with a good degree of finesse, and that is a great opportunity for young composers- and essential if they are to keep developing  or gain confidence to keep writing.  It was clear that they had been given exposure to a plethora of interesting techniques and had made their own choices about what to use and, some of the results were quite interesting.

Saturday evening there was a concert of pieces by the students and also by Yotam Haber and another faculty member from Tulane.   

I was called in to play guitar with the Contemporaneous ensemble that Professor Haber had brought in from New York.  I have little experience or comfort in playing in such ensembles so it was humbling to be treated so well despite my own short comings, and I must add that the young players in contemporaneous, including their conductor, David Bloom, were also extremely generous in giving me pointers to help the event go off smoothly. Not to mention larger picture issues from my old friend, bassist Doug Therrion. It was all very interesting especially because I am usually in the composer's seat having a piece played, not usually doing the playing.  My strengths as a player are often in other directions, but it was nice to be given an opportunity try to find some way to contribute, given my limitations.  Fresh challenges in music are a good thing.

It seems that with all this going on we might see a healthy crop of fine composers develop out of New Orleans which is something that has been in short supply here, and something that could make a  fascinating musical town, even more so.