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Chico Freeman / Chico Freeman Orchestra

Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant Recipient

Chico Freeman

Recipient Information


San Diego, California

Year of Award


Grant or Fellowship

Jazz Road Creative Residencies Grant

Grant Amount


About the Project

The Chico Freeman 19-pc Orchestra will create new extended suite w/conductor, John Kordalewski, in honor of the Chicago legacy set by Freeman's legendary father Von Freeman.  The University of Chicago, South Side Jazz Coalition and Constellation will be sites for open rehearsals and performances.

Residency Location

Chicago, IL

About the Artist

Heralded as one of the most important saxophonists of our time, composer and producer Chico Freeman has perfected an immediately recognizable approach to improvisation and composition, blending what he has experienced from his past and providing fluidity into a future of infinite musical possibilities. As part of the Freeman family legacy of Chicago—including his father, legendary NEA Jazz Master saxophonist Von Freeman, and his uncles, guitarist George Freeman and drummer Bruz Freeman—Chico has amassed a diverse résumé of performing R&B to blues, hard bop and avant-garde.

His collegiate studies in Advanced Composition and Theory at Northwestern University led him to teach composition at the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) Music School, and while attaining his Masters in Composition and Theory at Governor State University he also studied composition with NEA Jazz Master Muhal Richard Abrams. Although jazz was the first music he was exposed to, many of his first professional gigs were with blues artists such as Memphis Slim and Lucky Carmichael, and R&B greats such as The Dells, Jackie Wilson, and The Temptations.

Upon moving to New York in the late 1970s, he was immediately embraced by a remarkable array of jazz masters and began touring and recording with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Jack DeJohnette to name a few. Concurrently, he started recording as a leader with albums that met with immediate commercial success and critical acclaim.

Chico Freeman’s career has enjoyed non-stop growth. He has more than 30 albums as a leader/composer and is a 2-time GRAMMY® nominee. He has led the all-star groups The Leaders (with Lester Bowie, Arthur Blythe, Kirk Lightsey, Cecil McBee, and Don Moye) and Roots (with fellow saxophonists Nathan Davis, Arthur Blythe, and Bennie Golson), as well as diverse ensembles such as Guataca (Latin jazz) and Exotica (saxophone, cello, and percussion). He has worked with a long list of jazz greats including Sun Ra, Sam Rivers, Billy Hart, Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Hutcherson, and John Hicks, as well as Latin music greats such as Chucho Valdes, Tito Puente, and Machito. His writing for film, television and theatre has won him awards in Austria, Germany, Canada and Italy. His recent recordings ""Spoken into Existence,"" ""The Essence of Silence,"" and ""The Arrival"" are testament to his continued high level of creative output.