Daniel Freedman: It’s Always Been Hard Being a Jazz Musician

Quest to make drum set not sound like one
By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican | Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 5:20 pm

freedman_danielUPPER JAY/WHALLONSBURG — Daniel Freedman absorbed the art of drumming from the hands of masters, so it’s little wonder he’s considered one of the mercurial rhythm changers of jazz today.

“My father took me to hear Art Blakey when I was young,” said Freedman….

“A lot of these guys were friends of his. My uncle was a great guitar player. I heard the stories and legends. As a grown man now, I look back and have more appreciation for that.”

At LaGuardia High School, he learned drumming fundamentals from jazz royalty: Max Roach, Billy Higgins and Vernel Fournier.

“I grew up being aware of the legacy of Max Roach,” Freedman said.

“Max always stressed focus on composition and being a complete musician. If I saw him, he would ask, ‘How’s your piano playing?’ He was less concerned with specific drumming and technical things and about being an overall musician and composing and being complete.”

….Freedman wishes he had hung out more with [Higgins].

“He stressed don’t be afraid to imitate the masters and to learn and be supportive of the other musicians,” Freedman said. “He talked about listening and using your ears and being supportive. He was one of the most supportive drummers ever.”

Integrity on the drums was Fournier’s edict, and he didn’t suffer slackers gladly.

“Always playing like you mean it,” Freedman said.

“One time I had a lesson with him, and I played something halfway. He yelled at me. He wasn’t kidding around. A lot of the older guys were not playing. It’s hard to be a jazz musician now. It’s always been hard.”

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