Review: Jazz.Fm (Brad Barker)
Guitarist Mike Freedman has been a staple on the Toronto scene for decades. The Berklee grad is known for the ease with which he can take on any style required of him, making him a go-to sideperson. After more than 30 years, he finally released his first album as a leader — and the results were well worth the wait. The playing is stellar, with pianist Jeremy Ledbetter, drummer Max Senitt and bassist Kobi Hass anchoring the recording. But the true star here is the material. Freedman wrote nine tunes for the album that have shades of Latin jazz, blues and ambient music, each sounding distinctly like a Mike Freedman original: melodic, and with a story to tell.
Review: The Whig Standard (David Reed)
Freedman's playing is thoroughly impressive on Into the Daybreak
Active on the Toronto music scene for over thirty years, Mike Freedman is a respected guitarist and composer who has performed and toured with countless others including Tia Brazda and Barbra Lica. This is his first solo statement of original music. Day of Change opens the record with fluid and melodic focus in a major key. It is an uplifting composition with stellar guitar playing and a talented band supporting. May the 4th Be With You is an obvious Star Wars reference but the music is a touch more Latin than one might expect to hear from the Bith musicians in the Mos Espa Cantina. (Star Wars trivia: the Cantina band is called Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes). Jeremy Ledbetter delivers an other-worldly piano solo, punctuated by horns. Samba on the Sand has a beach vibe (not Tatooine) and Louis Simão adds a rhythmic texture with his Brazilian Cuica drum. Freedman seems to channel the spirit of Wes Montgomery on this track. Journey Beyond Seven opens with a pulsing piano part in 7/4 time (subdivided into eighth-note groupings of 3+3+3+3=2) before abandoning the rigidity of the opening for a more dreamy and relaxed exploration of time. Freedman’s playing is thoroughly impressive and it’s an album highlight for sure. Chris Gale adds some beautiful tenor saxophone on Lamentation Revelation and Snake in the Grass. Other highlights include Resolve, Tomorrow is Yesterday and the rhythmic title track.
Review: Midwest Record
MIKE FREEDMAN/Into the Daybreak: Easy, breezy, groovy jazz guitar from an old Canadian pro that's been finding success in the new world of nu charts while playing with everyone in Canada that needs a tasty guitarist by their side. Unabashed in his love for everyone from Wes to Mike Stern, he can take it all in and still be his own man. Right in the pocket of all the other summer jazz you love, especially when looking ahead to 5 p.m. Friday. Well done.
Review: Ivan Rod
Canadian jazz guitarist Mike Freedman has been a prominent musician on the Toronto music scene for more than three decades. He has been a solid sideman for names like Tia Brazda, Barbra Lica, Steven Taetz and The Willows. But with his first album in his own name - the first as conductor - and nine of his own compositions, he also proves with all the desired clarity that he in his own right has more and more to offer. Into the Daybreak is thus a solid outing, a kaleidoscopic, many faceted, colorful and yet stringent album with music that both captures and flows. A melodic thread runs through the songs on the album. A thread that not only gives the listener easy access, but also creates coherence, depth and weight. The music is catchy from end to end, leaning towards smooth jazz and up a range of other styles such as blues, latin and ambient. And that, of course, with a seemingly natural lightness - without at any point there being momentum that is weighed and found too light. Songs like Snake in the Grass, Into the Daybreak and Resolve are highlights on an otherwise accomplished and stylish, beautiful album.
Review: Musical Memoirs (Dee Dee McNeil)
Toronto-based guitarist, Mike Freedman, has released his debut album as a bandleader, after three decades of experience on the Toronto, Canada music scene. This album features nine of Freedman’s original compositions and each one is a sparkling gem. Mike Freedman’s music is melodic and contemporary. He’s a solid composer with fresh eyes on song structure and melody. Take for example “Lamentation Revelation” with it’s surprising chord changes. Most of Freedman’s music is laid-back and relaxing. However, on “Samba on the Sand” he picks up the pace and adds a cuica, played by Luis Simão. The word ‘cuica’ means gray, four-eyed opossum in Portuguese, but it’s actually a Brazilian friction drum that has a large pitch range. It’s popularly used in Samba music and known for its high- pitched cry. It adds richness to the production. Freedman’s fingers fly across the guitar strings, like busy Sea Gulls circling the beach. “Snake in the Grass” is played in a minor mode and sounds very Middle Eastern. With his repertoire and arrangements, Mike Freedman offers a variety of original music for our listening pleasure. Most is presented in a smooth jazz way that features his skills on guitar and a very creative imagination.
Tastefully arranged soul lullaby, film noir and Latin with hints of the Allmans and Bowie feed into a sweet album from the Canada-based guitarist
Over the past 30 years Canada-based guitarist and composer Mike Freedman has been recording and touring internationally with artists such as Tia Brazda, George Koller, Barbra Lica, Denielle Bassels, Steven Taetz and The Willows jazz trio. He has also released four albums as an instrumentalist and singer-songwriter: Mother Earth (1999), Postcards From The South (2001), Guitar Textures (2005) and The Heart Of The Night (2011). Into The Daybreak is his debut album as a bandleader.
The set opens on the bright, upbeat Day Of Change, with Freedman’s fluid guitar runs – reminiscent of The Allman Brothers’ Jessica, sometime theme for TV’s Top Gear – forming a tasteful interaction with Jeremy Ledbetter’s lively, Dave Grusin-style piano work, while Max Senitt’s constantly changing drum accompaniment partners some neat, bouncy bass lines from Kobi Hass. May The 4th Be With You is faster and more strident, featuring majestic, uplifting horn passages from Cuban trumpeter Alexia Baro, as Freedman and Ledbetter busy themselves against Chris Gale’s spiky tenor sax.
The light Latin rhythm of Samba On The Sand, featuring Louis Simão on the curious-sounding cuíca (aka the Brazilian friction drum), sees prominent keyboards and melodica making space for playful guitar before returning for a punchy finish. Gale’s saxophone takes things right down with its languid introduction to Snake In The Grass, kicking off in a sultry film noir mood, then sequeing into a frenetic piano solo that gives Bowie’s Aladdin Sane a run for its money, and playing out against Senitt’s insistent drum hits and cymbal crashes.
The title track starts dynamically, recalling the The Doors’ Touch Me, horns firing on all cylinders, then giving way to the now-familiar guitar-piano interplay, alternating fast-and-furious with mellower vibes and some glorious sax work. Tomorrow Is Yesterday sees Curtis Freeman replace Hass on bass, its smooth opening heralding a fussier, more upbeat approach in which Ledbetter’s cascading piano runs dominate. Finally, the lovely closer Resolve is a slow-paced soul lullaby, recalling Stevie Wonder, Joe Sample/Randy Crawford and the Beatles’ Something. This and May The 4th are the album’s two jewels.
The nine self-penned tunes here, while often derivative of other works, are nevertheless pleasing jazz offerings flawlessly delivered, with controlled but outstanding improv kept to brief, manageable pockets. The rapport between Freedman and Ledbetter is superb, as is all the horn work, and the rhythm section keeps the whole thing on the level while maintaining a distinctive profile. Sweet.
Review: Take Effect
A veteran musician, composer and instructor, Toronto’s Mike Freedman has enjoyed a 3 decade career that’s included playing on countless jazz albums and making many of his own, too. Into The Daybreak, his first record as a solo instrumental jazz artist, has Freedman in excellent company across 9 stunning tracks. “Day Of Change” starts the record with warm, gorgeous guitar as crisp drumming from Max Senitt and Jeremy Ledbetter’s fluent piano accent the swirling jazz opener, and “May The 4th Be With You” follows with Alexis Baro’s trumpet prowess adding much to the swift and elegant atmosphere. “Samba On The Sand”, one of the album’s best, then recruits Louis Simao on Cuica for the Latin flavored rhythms, while “Snake In The Grass” trims the pace back with a more dramatic landscape of carefully timed keys, precise drumming and, of course, Freeman’s exceptional guitar work. “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”, another strong track, then welcomes Curtis Freeman’s fretless bass amid no shortage of melody and guitar acrobatics. Deeper yet, “Journey Beyond Seven” is a versatile and dreamy display of jazz and blues ideas, and “Resolve” exits the listen with Chris Gales’ tenor sax skills adding much to the sophisticated and very memorable finish. Freedman’s guitar playing is inspired by legends like Pat Metheny and Wes Montgomery, who his work definitely parallels in greatness, and he’s even helped Tia Brazda hit the top of the jazz charts. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Into The Daybreak sees a similar destination with its flawless attention to detail and top notch execution.