The musical vision of drummer, percussionist and composer Daniel Freedman extends well beyond the reach of his drum kit. A master rhythmic catalyst, he brings a boundless imagination to his gift for sonic alchemy, conjuring sparks from unexpected combinations of collaborators, influences and cultures.
Freedman’s innate ability to discover the pulse-pounding groove at the heart of any musical situation has informed his eclectic fascinations, which range from swinging jazz to deep-rooted blues, along with wide-ranging traditions from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and beyond.
Those instincts led him from the fertile early ‘90s scene at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City to the Broadway stage, as part of David Byrne’s acclaimed American Utopia as well as the movie version of the show, directed by Spike Lee. from the innovative world-jazz hybridity of the all-star collective Third World Love to performing and recording with artists including Angelique Kidjo, Anat Cohen, Sting, Meshell Ndegeocello, Youssou N-Dour, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis, Omara Portuondo and Tom Harrell.
Freedman’s rhythmic virtuosity is matched by his ability to envision and synthesize seemingly disparate elements. Such harmonious and joyful innovation is evident throughout Freedman’s own catalogue, beginning with his attention-grabbing debut Trio in 2001. His travels to musically rich locales like Bamako, Morocco, Senegal and Marrakech informed his 2012 follow-up, Bamako By Bus, while his third album, Imagine That, received a 5-star review in DownBeat, which declared that Freedman “has quietly, almost surreptitiously, become a primal force, creating a kind of people’s music built on rustling folk rhythms, ethnic melodies and joyous performances.”
Those qualities also come to the fore in Third World Love, his culture-melding quartet with Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital and Yonatan Avishai. Freedman’s boundary-blurring compositions, and performances propelled by a vibrant pleasure principle, animate his most recent record, Ghost Modern, a unique new ensemble featuring the stellar guitarists Gilad Hekselman and Al Street as well as percussionist Gilmar Gomes, with a host of invited guests including trumpeter/producer Michael Leonhart, percussion great Mauro Refosco and others; and the new ensemble Gnawa Nova, co-founded by Moroccan musician Samir LanGus and dedicated to combining jazz improvisation with the ritual trance music of Morocco.