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Say So Long to Freilich

The guitarist Jonathan Freilich is one of the most eclectic musicians to ever dedicate a part of his life and career to New Orleans. He has put his stamp on such a huge range of projects that its most likely impossible for one person to even list them all. I’m not even going to try.

But consider this. He’s one of the founding members of the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. The group exposed a whole generation of New Orleans music lovers to the joys of jazz disguised as highly danceable Eastern European folk music.

He is a founding member of 007—a group that exposed another generation of New Orleans music lovers to rock steady music from Jamaica.

He formed an orchestra whose members performed naked. Just kidding, but they are called the Naked Orchestra and the group has included some of the best and most creative musical minds in the city. Naked on the Floor, his miniature version of the orchestra, remains one the most interesting small jazz groups I have ever heard.

Does anyone even remember Poor Man’s Speedball?

In a city that prides itself on being a mecca of jazz education, Freilich stands out as a member of a very rare group of cats that has done it all without being properly “edumacated.” So he’s heading to California to study composition. I suspect that some of his teachers, which include luminaries like legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden, will be studying him.

Tonight, will be his last show in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. He will be playing at Bacchanal on Poland Avenue in the Bywater at 7:30 PM. Doug Garrison will be on drums, Joe Cabral will be on bass. Everyone and anyone who has ever played with Jonathan is invited to join in the festivities. Bring your axe—he is expecting a cast of thousands.

(photo by Zach Smith)


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