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

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


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.