New Interview with Jonathan Freilich. Low life journalism on Frenchmen St in the 1990s

Low Life Journalism is a website run by Laura Difazio, architect and journalist. She has been doing a wonderful series about interesting times in a certain part of New Orleans. Her interview style and writing are really exposing a few things not getting coverage elsewhere. Very worth looking at if you have a thing for all things New Orleans.

This time around she interviewed a certain Jonathan Freilich.

The interview is here… and features photos by Mani Lander from Mas Mamones, spoken of elsewhere on this site.

From the music interview side of this site we would like to say that even without a focus on this author, her work is really something!

Laura Difazio

Laura Difazio

She interviewed me a few years back fro offbeat magazine. That interview is available through a link on her website.

James Joyce's Dirty Letters: subject of my new short Opera for Bloomsday,NOLA 6/14-6/16

“Darling, Please do not be offended (by what I wrote.)”

-is the full title. This will be performed for the Bloomsday celebration in New Orleans. Bloomsday is the annual celebration of James Joyce’s groundbreaking masterpiece, Ulysses. The festival is now being handled by the collaborator in two of my previous operas (‘Bang the Law’, ee me and pollock thee’) , Chris Lane.

I have had the idea for a long time and finally the opportunity came up to stage the piece. Libretto and music by yours truly. All the text however is by Mr. James Joyce. The lyric is totally unexpurgated. Immoral restoration theater type directness for our tightening times…except of course- of and for the common people.

The opera is also to remember the great victory over victorian censorship of the book.

The piece will be at the church at the Hotel Peter and Paul in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. There will be two performance on the 14th and two on the 16th of June.

Great artists have been assembled to work on it.

Zara Zemmels- Mezzo-Soprano
Nelson Gonzalez- Joyce
Tim Robertson- Guitar
Janna Saslaw- Flutes
David Gamble- projections and design
Joan Long- Lighting/ stage design/ performance consultant

Jonathan Freilich- composer/librettist
Chris Lane- producer and set builder.

Extremely important here is our gofundme campaign to raise the money for the production. We hope that if you support arts in New Orleans, or are a theater fan, or a literature fan, or an independent/ experimental/contemporary opera buff, or prefer that your ribald times aren’t impinged upon, or support diversity in music, or the livelihood and development of the arts in general, that you will contribute. Any amount helps greatly.

The link is here…

Zara Zemmels

Zara Zemmels

Tim Robertson

Tim Robertson

David Gamble

David Gamble

janna saslaw

janna saslaw

'I think you should go home' - for Alex Mcmurray's 50th Birthday

As some may know, my old friend, Alex Mcmurray, is turning 50. He is some impressive songwriter and musician and occasionally some of us in different ways are included in some of his bardic expositions. Recently, for my birthday he published this piece which can be found on his band camp page here…

That features a very touching piece of writing about the odd circumstances through which we met and the mighty days in the 90s, all put in better writing than I could redo here.

However, this time it is his birthday, and I put together this piece of music for him. I don’t have the store systems for selling it to you all, or setting it up for download but I put it here so you can check it out for your pleasure and edification.

It’s recorded and mixed by me, in the old home studio, and I have included the voices of a couple of his old friends, Michael Mehiel  and Glenn Hartman.


Alex Mcmurray

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





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.

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.

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.

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 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?")

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...

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