Best known for his ground-breaking jazz, multi reedman Chico Freeman has travelled a lifetime of musical adventures. The son of legendary Chicago tenor sax player Von Freeman, Chico’s journey has taken him around the world alongside such musical giants as Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Charles Mingus, Jack DeJohnette, Art Blakey and Wynton Marsalis.
What a lot of people don’t know is that behind the scenes for the last 13 years Chico has been writing a new songbook for the 21st Century, a lyrical melodic collection of Timeless Classic Songs, written with lyricist, vintage composer/songwriter/multi-media artist Jan Pulsford. Jan’s long musical career encompasses electronica to pop, classical to folk, dance to rock. Cyndi Lauper, Darlene Love, Steps, Anthony Head and Ani di Franco have recorded Jan’s songs along with music consistently used by media producers all over the world.
So how did this unlikely partnership come about?
Jan’s appreciation of jazz lyrics and melodies comes from a childhood listening to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle. After touring with the Thompson Twins she worked closely with Keki Mingus, daughter of the great Charles Mingus, on the “Let my Children hear Music’ project. Producing tracks for the album she mixed trip hop and hip-hop with jazz, rap and vocals to create a unique sound.
Meeting Chico Freeman through the Rocket Network opened up a new way of writing. Apple asked them to become beta testers for a new platform for creative collaboration online. Through this ground-breaking new medium they started creating – meeting in person only occasionally. Chico and Jan have recorded music for the Audrey Tautou film “Happy End” plus music and songs for several other independent films and albums.
Always looking for a singer to record their ever expanding songbook they eventually found Estelle Kokot, a London based jazz stylist and singer songwriter in her own right. Out of a catalogue of close to 60 songs they whittled it down to 16 to record and Estelle has spent the last year making them her own.
The Freeman/Pulsford musical partnership has spawned some of their most inspired songs, lyrics and music. Jan has written words to some of Chico’s previously recorded compositions like Mystery, Ballad for Hakima and Evolution. They also continue to collaborate musically and lyrically on new songs.
The album, entitled “The Sound of You’ is now ready to record and, ever the online pioneers, Chico and Jan are crowdsourcing the making of the album on Pledge Music.
Every dollar you pledge helps this album get closer to release. So, the more you pledge the more you get and the more we can record – thanks to YOU!
You can hear Estelle Kokot talk in the video about singing and interpreting the songbook, along with how you can get involved with this new way of funding the recording of music.
Read the blog, documenting the story and journey of the Sound of You songbook – a lyrical album rooted in jazz with a sound stretching from Chicago to Johannesburg, New York to London.