Mike Freeman Biography

Biography

Mike Freeman Biography
Musician Composer Bandleader Recording Artist
Arranger
Educator Producer

"masterful”, “a superb vibes player”, “wildly talented”
mike-freeman-1sm

Vibraphonist and composer,
Mike Freeman, has been entrenched in the New York jazz and Latin music scene for over three decades. With spirited soulful swing, his performances have taken him from North America and Europe to the Azores, Caribbean, and South America. His seven recordings of original music (ranging from jazz, Latinjazz, salsa, Brazilian, fusion, and R&B) have gained national and international attention and received extensive radio airplay charting on jazz, contemporary jazz, and World Music radio. “Blue Tjade”, a tip of the hat to Cal Tjader, is followed by the latest in a line of clave infused recordings Mike has produced, “Venetian Blinds” featuring music for El Rey (The King) Tito Puente and NEA Jazz Master Bobby Hutcherson.

mike-freeman-steelpan-guy

Past performance highlights as a leader include the Trinidad & Tobago Steelpan & Jazz Festival; Festival Internacional (Terciera, Azores); Central Park’s Harlem Meer concert series in New York City; performing for Flood Relief in Des Moines, Iowa; Joslyn Art Museum’s Jazz on the Green in Omaha, NE; the Berks, Rehoboth Beach, Hennessy Greenwich Village, and JVC Newport (at Saratoga) jazz festivals; International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) Convention, as well as an extensive tour of Portugal, cosponsored by the Fulbright Foundation and the American Embassy (USIA), where he received the Medal of the City of Guarda.

mike-freeman-guarda-medal-close-sm
Mike Freeman received the Medal of the City, Guarda, Portugal, 1985

Other endeavors include producing “Band Together2” a benefit concert for musicians affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (Puerto Rico in particular) with proceeds going to the Jazz Foundation of America. And “Band Together” a Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert for the Tipitinas Foundation benefiting New Orleans–area musicians. Mike wrote a series, spanning more than a decade, of commissioned compositions and arrangements for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Percussion Scholarship Program and in 2014 was commissioned by the late drummer/educator Ed Uribe to write arrangements for a national percussion curriculum for China that were performed by members of the Shanghai Symphony at Shanghai Symphony Hall.

Mike is also widely known for his work and recordings with several acclaimed Latin groups. The vibes behind the name, Mike has worked extensively with legendary percussionist Ray Mantilla’s Good Vibrations Band, which toured Italy far and wide. Ray’s latest cd “High Voltage” includes Mike and ”Good Vibrations" (both on Savant Records) was Jazzweek's top Latinjazz recording on radio, 2006. He was part of Lucho Cueto’s all-star group Black Sugar, “Estamos Azucar", which gave blockbuster performances for thousands at the Toros Y Salsa Festival in Dax, France, and at the Festival Internacional de Salsa in Lima, Peru. He performed for over ten years with Jose Mangual Jr.’s Son Boricua featuring the late Jimmy Sabater (one of the architects of Boogaloo) that performed for large gatherings at salsa congresses in New York, L.A., and Atlanta. Jose Mangual Jr.'s Boricua Blues formed after Jimmy's passing. His vibe work can also be heard with Mark Holen’s eclectic Latin blues band Zambomba. In the 1990’s he was often heard in New York with Jorge Jimenez’s salsa group Timba Vibes, having created the group's book, followed by an over 15 year association with salsa singer Julio Salgado. He performed with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra (directed by Oscar Hernandez) at Madison Square Garden and with Willie Villegas's Joe Cuba Sextet for New Jersey's salsa congress both with legendary sonero Cheo Feliciano.

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska,
Mike Freeman started learning drums at age five and began playing professionally at age thirteen. At twelve, he began playing the vibraphone, and by fifteen, he was a percussionist for the Omaha Symphony under conductor Thomas Briccetti. During his last year of high school, he began traveling to Chicago to study with renowned percussionist and veteran studio musician Bobby Christian. He graduated DePaul University with a Bachelor of Music composition with high honors in 1981. In New York, where he’s lived and worked since, he studied with composer/arranger Hale Rood, (who wrote for Louie Bellson).

Mike-Freeman-Joslyn-Jazz
 Joslyn Art Museum Omaha, NE

Family music: Mike’s grandfather was a drummer and leader of Ron Freeman and the Melody Masters, a popular band that was heard on the radio in the Midwest. Neal Hefti played in his band before becoming famous in California. Mike’s paternal grandmother sang and played the organ and marimba. His maternal grandmother was a talented piano player in her youth. Mike’s father, Harry Freeman, worked his way through college playing the saxophone and clarinet.

"Latin jazz doesn't get any better than this"
–Mark Sullivan, Allaboutjazz

View/Download Mike Freeman Press Kit here

— 2018 —

-ZV-

Mike-Freeman-Mallet-Logo

Associated Groups