Craig Freeman

WMUK Music Contributor

Craig Freeman is a freelance musician and teacher in west Michigan who performs with multiple ensembles and projects. At Western Michigan University, he studied trombone with Steven Wolfinbarger, graduating in 2011. Craig is originally from the Cleveland area.

Email: mercer03 (at) gmail.com

Craig Freeman

For classically-trained jazz pianist Dan Willenberg, Thelonius Monk is a creative genius who was both generous with his fellow musicians and uncompromising in his mission to live his music his way. In a free-ranging interview with Craig Freeman, Willenberg shares a personal vision of the sometimes-misunderstood jazz master, highlighting some special aspects of his playing and personality. 

Willenberg plays the Thelonius Monk tunes "'Round Midnight," "Bye-Ya," "Let's Cool One," "In Walked Bud," plus Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss." 


Craig Freeman

Keyboardist Brandon Fitzpatrick and guitarist Braulio Green, who grew up gigging together in Battle Creek, MI, are the visionaries behind Minor Element: an ambitious, 9-piece jazz fusion group that has just released its first EP, Stranger Things Have Happened.

Craig Freeman

Violinist Ahmed Tofiq has become, by neccessity, a bridge between Eastern and Western musical traditions, and a bridge between cultures as well. The co-founder of a youth orchestra for children of Syrian refugees, Orchestra Rouh, he speaks Arabic and excels in playing traditional melodies in the styles he learned growing up in Kurdistan. But Tofiq has embraced life in Kalamazoo since moving here to earn his master's degree in music at Western Michigan University in 2014. He knows that music is one way to form connections, and a feeling of home, quickly.

In the Takeda studio, with his violin, Ahmed Tofiq tells his story and plays a few of his favorite maqamat as he speaks with Craig Freeman. 


Craig Freeman

What does it take to be a professional classical musician while maintaining a private teaching studio of 40-50 students? Trumpeter Keith Geiman addresses that question with WMUK contributor Craig Freeman, performing some of his favorite pieces with his Britton-Geiman Duo partner, pianist Thom Britton. They play arrangements of Clark's Venus Waltz, Gershwin's Summertime, and the Thiele/Weiss tune, What A Wonderful World. In remembrance of influential Western Michigan University performer/educator  Stephen Jones, Geiman plays two verses of Amazing Grace.


Catalina Gonzalez

Jordan Hamilton is a performer who took his training in classical cello and transformed himself into a soloist who sings, raps, writes, and performs electro-acoustic arrangements on the cello. Originally from Maryland, he is a member of the Last Gasp Collective, and recently completed his master's degree in music performance from Western Michigan University. WMUK contributor Craig Freeman invited him to play his eclectic solo set live in the Takeda Studio and talk about his uncommon path to self-expression.


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