Composing for Collaborative Opera at Music Box Village

Back to Opera composing. It’s been a few years since the last one.

I will be collaborating with Bernard Pearce and many others on his original idea. The Music box Village is a fascinating outdoor performance venue with a very special set of large installation instruments.

The piece will go up in Spring 2019.

To follow the information-

music box village.jpg
 bernard pearce

bernard pearce

Show schedule across Jazzfest.

Here is what to look forward to.  Mark down the dates and improve your scramble for a spiraling higher and higher musical ecstasy.

Thursday 26th May 9:30pm- Siberia Lounge- The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars feat. Ben Ellman
Friday 27th May 11pm-Starlight Lounge- Derrick Freeman Trio
Saturday 28th May 4:20pm- New Orleans Jazzfest-Klezmer All Stars feat. Steven Bernstein
Tuesday May 1st 9pm- 3 Keys at The Ace Hotel- Naked On The Floor feat. Steven Bernstein
Tuesday May 1st 11:30pm- Blue Nile balcony Room- Steven Bernstein's Fest Mob
Wednesday May 2nd 11am-1pm- The Bywater Bakery- New Orleans klezmer All Stars
Thursday May 3rd 9pm- Hi Ho Lounge- Saucefest
Friday May 4 8:30pm- Zeitgeist Multi Disciplinary Art Center- James Singleton Band
Friday May 4th midnight- Sidebar - New Orleans Klezmer All Stars Trio feat. Aurora Nealand
Saturday May 5th 10pm-Vaughan's Lounge-Klezmer All Stars double bill w/ Morning 40 Federation
Saturday May 5th-midnight- Chickie Wah Wah-James Singleton Quartet
Sunday May 6th 11:30pm- Chickie Wah Wah- Mike Dillon Quartet


The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars website launched

A new All Stars site is up.  Read all about it...or click here, we mean...

 Photo by Doug Mason

Photo by Doug Mason

Our upcoming shows during jazzfest:

Thursday April 26 at 9:30pm Siberia Lounge fro the Eastern European Bloc Party
Saturday April 28 at 4:20pm The Lagniappe stage  Fairgrounds for the Jazzfest.
Wednesday May 2 at 11am Bywater Bakery
Friday May 4th at midnight at Sidebar -Klezmer All Stars Duo/Trio w/ Aurora Nealand
Saturday May 5th 10pm Vaughan's Lounge- double bill with The Morning 40 Federation

For more information and lineups check the new website I am on about here.

The Naked Orchestra at Saturn Bar. 3/21/2018- Equinox Baby!


The Naked Orchestra

The complete outfit live at Saturn Bar.  Outrageous lineup of new orleans music scene luminaries.

James P. Walsh- conductor
Janna Saslaw-flute
Chris Kohl- clarinet
Persis Randolph-oboe/bassoon
Steve Bertram- bassoon
Martin Krusche-Sop. Sax
Aurora Nealand-Alto sax
Ray Moore-Tenor Sax
Brent Rose- Tenor sax
Joe Cabral- Bari sax
Mike Fulton-tpt
Cyrus Nabipoor-tpt
Jeff Albert-tbone
Rick Trolsen-tbone
John Gros-tuba
jonathan Freilich-guitar
Helen Gillet-cello
Stephanie Nilles-piano
Nobu Ozaki-bass
Doug Garrison- drums

Conversations Ep.6- Griffin & Freilich on Faces Places by Agnes Varda

agnes varda.jpg

This time we review a current film.  Our podcast producer over at says:

Agnes Varda’s delicious Faces Places (Visages Villages) had a brief run in Zeitgeist, then two showings in the French Film Festival at the Prytania last month. It is available on Amazon download now, for purchase or rental. It is rewarding to see, a few times.

Henry and Jonathan discuss the chemistry between Agnes Varda, with Godard the last of the Nouvelle Vague, and JR – a small woman of 89 years and an active, wiry guy of about 35. JR has a short, high, square van decorated as a giant lens equipped with a photo booth and a printer – I think they are called giclée – that makes poster prints about three feet by five feet that roll out through a  long slot in the side of the van. There is a lot more to this film than the photo van, of course, but making the process immediate and participatory, it catalyzes the interaction. The people are photographed in the booth or in outside scenes, the posters printed and the pasting up done almost immediately with the participation of the subjects and the village. Not just images, the photos are part of an event.


Several of the Agnes Varda films mentioned in the Conversation are on Filmstruck: Murs Murs, Vagabond, Cleo from 5 to 7, La Pointe Courte and Le Bonheur. Filmstruck has 14 Varda films – so far.

I learn a lot from Henry and Jonathan’s discussions, but to get the blend of simplicity and complexity in Faces Places – the visual and emotional charm and challenge of the places, the rapport of JR, who is about 35, and Agnes who is 89, their travels, projects and creative cooperation, somehow mixing successfully with visual and verbal reference to their own works and styles – try to see it.


The podcast is available on iTunes.  Here...

Also directly from Nolascape- here...

Conversations- Griffin & Freilich discus Morvern Callar (2002)


Another episode of our podcast on film.  This week we are discussing the Scottish film, Morvern Callar.  A fascinating film that you may not have come across.

The podcast feed is available on iTunes, but best through

They host and produce the show.  There is a growing collection which you can find links to by scrolling down this page.

Happy March to you.


Great music happening this month:

So far:

Thursday Oct. 5- The new Orleans Klezmer All Stars, 9PM, Siberia-

Last month we played at Siberia, and it was a fitting return for Glenn Hartman, our keyboardist and blood pumper.  The food is excellent and Eastern Euro.  Everyone loved it. Folks can't help but dance and imbibe. Come out for this one.

Thursday Oct 12th- The Naked Orchestra, 10PM, Allways Lounge-

The full 20 odd piece Naked Orchestra performs again, at a new venue for us.  Come see some of the greatest and most exciting improvisors and composers from across the scene.  It's always an instant party. 

Friday Oct. 13th- The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, 9pm Chickie Wah Wah

This will be a party and some really driving music a) because it's the klez and b) because it's my birthday, and you are all invited c) it's friday the 13th again..  Let's really go crazy, it's been a tough year.  This one is going to rock!

Saturday Oct. 14th- Wadada Leo Smith performs 10 Freedom Summers at Loyola.

I'm happy to have contributed to the effort to help get Wadada here to perform and work with the New Orleans music community.  He is a great artist with great vision and this is a seminal work about civil rights.  This group is not to be missed and is augmented by string quartet and strong multimedia presentation..  The information on the show is here... please attend you will be edified.

Sunday Oct. 15th- w/ James Singleton quintet, 8 and 10PM- Snug Harbor-

What a band James assembles! Check it out.

Wednesday Oct. 18th- Naked On The Floor- 9PM Three Keys, Ace Hotel

My flagship chamber group, in a great room. Rex Gregory- saxes etc; Cyrus Nabipoor-trumpet; Rick Trolsen-trombone; James Singleton-bass; Stanton Moore-drums; Jonathan Freilich- guitar.  Yep, you read right.  Our original drummer, Stanton is back for a great evening of music.

Thursday Oct. 19th- w/ singer, Annie Ellicott- 8:43PM- The Sidebar

Annie is a great writer and fascinatingly flexible vocalist.  If you haven't checked out the sidebar you are living in a dream where you can't figure out what's up. 

And that's just to start, get you salivating at the diversity, and give you some strength to take on the adversity.


Film Conversations Ep4: 40 Guns w/ Henry Griffin and Jonathan Freilich


40 Guns is a very strange and interesting western by Sam Fuller.  Nolascape, who produces and hosts our show says this:

       What a film.

        I had never seen or even heard of it until Henry and Jonathan put it in the frame for a Conversation.

From one point of view, it can look like a collection of horse opera clichés. A pace or two to the side to let the light hit it from another angle, and it is Sophocles set against the unfinished clapboard fronts of a prairie pioneer town instead of the columns of a Mycenaean palace. Are the two bath scenes just non-sequitur comedy skits with cowboy song musical accompaniment, or are they choral interludes in a play of destiny?

Henry and Jonathan will figure it out.

Indeed we will...and do.  And, you should too.  Improve your film buffery...get into the new film buffet- CONVERSATIONS.

Forty Guns New Main Image.jpg






In this installment of the cool new podcast on film hosted by Nolascape, Henry Griffin and Jonathan Freilich discuss Popeye, the incredibly unusual 1980 film, starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.  It's art, music, and classic iconography all around.


Nolascape says-

Popeye – an inspired selection for our movies series. It’s hard to think of an aspect of the art of film that is not superb in Popeye: a great director on top form directing superb actors, the sets, colors, sound, songs . . . but I should quiet down and let Henry and Jonathan tell you about it.
If you have seen Popeye, I am sure you will enjoy our NOLAscape movie duo drilling down into it. And if you haven’t, I hope they inspire you to get access to a copy and see what you have been missing.
The podcast and further links are here...

Conversations 2: Podcast- In The Mood For Love w/ Henry Griffin and Jonathan Freilich

Nolascape is hosting and producing  film heavy conversations by Professor Henry Griffin and the author of this site.  This one on a great movie by the singular director- Wong Kar Wai.  The film is just beautiful to look at, and there is far more beneath the surface...

Nolascape says-

In this episode Henry and Jonathan discuss In the Mood for Love. If you don’t know this film or the work of Chinese director Wong Kar-Wei, I would suggest diving in. In the Mood for Love is a visual and auditory feast that you can watch over and over, like you look at a great painting or statue again and again. Color, sound, image, movement, quiet passion, powerful emotion powerfully restrained – it’s special.
Suggestion from the amateur (me): think about the title again after you watch the film.
Some intro facts:
 Wong Kar Wai

Wong Kar Wai

Conversations: New podcast on 'Tetro', with Henry Griffin and Jonathan Freilich

Last week the great blog, Nolascape, starting putting up the first in a series of conversations on films with Professor Henry Griffin and the author of this site.  The first is about Francis Ford Coppola's film, Tetro, starring Vincent Gallo.  A great movie filmed in, and featuring Buenos Aires. The photography is striking as is the subject.

The relationship between film and sound is right in line with the fascinations that drive this website.  Loving film, we hope you will take a listen.  The conversations cover a lot of territory and contain much reflection on sound.  The podcasts are in a more focused than the meandering and exploratory conversations with musicians that are hosted here at Jonathan Freilich Presents, and suits the nature of the silver screened subject.  We have already recorded a few for nolascape, and there are many more to come.  We will let you know as they go up.


As usual ours are also on iTunes.  The conversations on film are as well.

Cherryhurst House, Houston: phase 1 wrap up. Heading back to New Orleans

Since the beginning of August, I have been in an artist residency here at Cherryhurst House in Houston, TX.  It has been a great few months of being able to generate musical ideas in an unfettered manner and with the inspiration of the various artists, architects, photographers, and chefs, that I have been in contact with here.  I have had the opportunity to imagine music driven by, being the driving force for, or working in exact unity with all those forms, and have been able to experiment with techniques new to me to make that work out.  I have been pleased that initial ideas have been through many transformations in the way that they will be presented and there may be a few more coming.  

Today, I'll return to New Orleans for a long stretch to teach composition in the media arts department at NOCCA, as well as, remain involved in the many projects I miss being part of around town.  I am really excited about this particular development and can only see great stuff coming out of the experience of being able to give a little back to New Orleans by teaching the younger folks.

The work towards the show here at Cherryhurst will continue, with weekend events featuring compositions and performances leading logically up to the exhibition set here for September 2017.

I have many people to thank here in Texas who are new friends and a kind supportive set of people who have helped me greatly here.  Top of the list is Dallas Mcnamara who I have been in part collaborating with since the outset.  The curators here, Barbara Levine, and Paige Raimey have been helpful and have in a great way challenged my reasons and directions to help with keeping an air of solidity around here. 

I also am grateful to have gotten to know Heather Johnson, the outgoing artist-in-residence, Dan Fergus over at Cafe Brasil, Rachel Rogers, Kim and Lisa Glosserman, Arturo and Lorena, Jefe Abrams and a host of other great people who have made my time in Houston so far such a warm experience.

I am both very sad to leave, and very happy to go back to New Orleans.

 Heather Johnson piece has been the backdrop behind my workdesk at cherryhurst.

Heather Johnson piece has been the backdrop behind my workdesk at cherryhurst.

Toru Takemitsu- Confronting Silence

Just finished this book of writings by Takemitsu.  Really worth the read.  I used to post stuff about interesting readings in music.  Maybe it will start up again.  

     "For several years I have been fascinated by traditional Japanese instruments such as the Biwa and Shakahuchi...
     "The sounds of such instruments are produced spontaneously in performance.  They seem to resonate through the performer, then merge with nature to manifest themselves, more as presence than as existence.  In the process of  their creation, theoretical thinking is destroyed.  A single strum of the strings or even one pluck is too complex, too complete in itself to admit any theory.  Between this complex sound–so strong that it can stand alone–and that point of silence preceding it, called ma, there is a metaphysical continuity that defies analysis.  Like itchō in Noh music, this ma and sound do not exist as a technically definable relationship.  It is here that sound and silence confront each other, balancing each other in a relationship beyond any objective measurement.
     "In its complexity and its integrity a single sound can stand alone.  To the sensitive Japanese listener who appreciates this refined sound, the unique idea of ma–the unsounded part of this experience–has at the same time a deep, powerful, and rich resonance that can stand up to the sound.  In short, this ma, this powerful silence, is that which gives life to the sound and removes it from its position of primacy."

Great stuff.  Check it out.  Libraries are a great thing.  So was a lot of Takemitsu's famous music.

Coming in to New Orleans for a few shows starting tonight- oct. 28

Running into New Orleans from Houston where I am the Artist in Residence at Cherryhurst House.  Big things coming from that.  More Later.

Right now, to NOLA. 

Tonight at Saturn Bar (10/28/2016- 10:30pm- with The Valparaiso Men's Chorus doing rousing Sea Shanties.

Sunday there is a New Orleans Klezmer All Stars show at audubon tea room (but we aren't sure if it is an open affair...)

On the 1st of November I will perform with Dan Oestreicher's great band, The Diesel Combustion Orchestra (Dan Oestreicher- saxes, conduction; Jeff Albert- trombone, conduction; Jesse Morrow-bass; Jonathan Freilich-guitar; Paul Thibodeaux-drums; Derrick "Oops" Moss- percussion.)  That will be at the great Ellis Marsalis Center.

On the 3rd of November playing at DBA 10pm,with Blake Amos doing his original music of Brazilian and New Orleans flavor and other things as yet un-categorizable.

 Dan Oestreicher

Dan Oestreicher

Sunday Oct 2nd at Chickie WahWah with James Singleton, Johnny Vidacovich and Skerik

Running into New Orleans for a couple of days with primary focus of playing with these wizards.  Folks sharpened by time, not dulled.

Come by at 8:30pm on Sunday 2nd at Chickie Wawa to see

James Singleton- bass
Johnny Vidacovich- drums
Jonathan Freilich- guitar

First you will very easily transcend that endless dreck bowl, the Trump-o-sphere and will know by the end that there are far larger things afoot.

Music is the greatest guide to the deep mind. That's confirmable and scarcely documentable.  Parlayable though...

New Croissant Heights from the rhythm section that knows what it is.

Playing Hipfest with Jeff Parker Tuesday 20th at Blue Nile, New Orleans

Very happy to be headed into New Orleans for a few days to be a part of instigators, Jeff Albert and Marcello Bennetti's accomplishment in progress, the Hipfest.  

All the improvisational and Avant Garde Lights of New Orleans will be there and it is truly an event if you really love music.

For my part, I am honored to be doing a duo set with the great Chicago guitarist Jeff Parker.

Check his stuff out!  It all happens September 20 at Blue Nile.  I hear at around 9pm.

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