Freeman, Mike

New York, NY

[email protected]

Mike Freeman has been hailed as a "master soloist" and "superb" vibes player for work with his own groups and performances as a featured member of other notable groups. Energetic, rhythmic, soulful, and melodic, Mike’s performances have taken him from North America and Europe, to the Azores, Caribbean, and South America. His six recordings of original music (ranging from jazz, Latinjazz, salsa, Brazilian, fusion, and R&B) have gained national and international attention including Grammy and Latin Grammy consideration and extensive radio airplay, charting on jazz, contemporary jazz, and world music radio. Mike Freeman & Spellbound's 1985 self-titled debut recording was followed by the drive-time success of “Street Shuffle.” “Wiggle Stomp" reflects a deeper immersion into the Latin music scene that, for him, began in the mid-1990s. On “In the Zone,” Mike brings salsa forms into a jazz context. "The Vibesman" 2012, takes that exploration further with a set of music that captured the attention of many. His newest production “Blue Tjade” blends some of his early writing styles into clave-based music.

High-profile shows for Mike 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; and First Night celebrations. Other past performance highlights and endeavors include producing Band Together, a Hurricane Katrina Benefit Concert for Tipitinas Foundation benefiting New Orleans–area musicians and the Humane Society; 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 as well as an extensive tour of Portugal, cosponsored by the Fulbright Foundation and the American Embassy.

Mike is also widely known by fans and audiences in the Bronx, Spanish Harlem, and elsewhere, for his work and recordings with several acclaimed Latin groups. He was part of Lucho Cueto’s all-star group Black Sugar, 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. The vibes behind the name, Mike has worked extensively with legendary percussionist Ray Mantilla’s Good Vibrations Band (with Edy Martinez), which has toured Italy far and wide. "Good Vibrations" (Savant Records) was Jazzweek's top Latinjazz recording on radio, 2006. A highly anticipated co-led recording project with salsa singer, and longtime colleague, Julio Salgado (from the Conga Kings) is also slated for release. Mike was often heard with Son Boricua (Jose Mangual Jr. and the late Jimmy Sabater), which 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 and he was part of Jorge Jimenez’s salsa group Timba Vibes and created the book for the group. 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.

Master classes and arranging: Florida International University, New York University, Ithaca College, and the Berklee College of Music have hosted Mike as a guest artist/clinician. His music arranged for big band has been a successful component of his performances with jazz department ensembles. Mike wrote a series (spanning eight years) of commissioned compositions and arrangements for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Percussion Scholarship Program. In 2014 he was commissioned to write arrangements for a new percussion curriculum for the country of China that were performed by members of the Shanghai Symphony at Shanghai Symphony Hall.