Bio

Born and raised near Chicago, in Elmhurst, IL, Mike became interested in jazz at age 12 after being introduced to George Benson by his guitar teacher at Perry’s Music in Villa Park, IL. In high school he performed the York High School Jazz Band, directed by Kurt Merrill which inspired him to pursue jazz guitar as a career.  He enrolled at Northern Illinois University, where he studied with Bobby Roberts and Fareed Haque. After earning a B.M. in Jazz Performance in 1991 Mike spent two years in Cincinnati, Ohio, spending many nights hanging with local guitar greats Cal Collins and Kenny Poole.  In 1994 he returned to Chicago and quickly became part of the city’s growing jazz scene.

Performing credits include 1997-2012 with the late tenor sax legend Von Freeman at his famous Tuesday night gig at the New Apartment Lounge. Mike toured with Von to Berlin in 2002, which was released  as Vonski Speaks on Nessa Records in 2009.  He can also be heard on Von Freeman’s 2002 release The Improvisor on Premonition Records. Other highlights include 1996-1997 with organ great Charles Earland, 1995-1999 with tenor saxophonist Lin Halliday, appearances from 1997-1999 with organ master Lonnie Smith, 1998-2002 with tenor saxophonist Ron Dewar, a 2005 performance in Philadelphia with Von Freeman and drumming legend Mickey Roker, a 2006 performance with Von Freeman and drum-master Jimmy Cobb, and in 2008 with alto saxophonist Steve Coleman.  Mike toured to Poznan, Poland in 2010 to perform with fellow Chicago guitarists Bobby Broom and Jeff Parker.  The Jazz Institute of Chicago along with the Chicago Cultural Center commissioned him to arrange Von Freeman’s original compositions for a 10-piece ensemble, featured in the summer of 2011 for the Made in Chicago concert series at Millennium Park with special guests Eric Alexander, Julian Priester, and Steve Coleman.  Later that same year, he travelled again to Poznan to perform an original 4-part suite dedicated to Von Freeman written for a 9-piece group.  In 2014, drumming legend Bernard Purdie joined Mike and George Freeman for a weekend at the Green Mill in Chicago.

In June of 2013 Mike completed a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from Northwestern University under the direction of saxophonist and clarinetist Victor Goines.  He is currently in the coursework phase at the University of Chicago in the PhD program for ethnomusicology.

Recent Posts

Vonology, a musical exploration of Von Freeman, Friday, December 14, 7pm, South Shore Cultural Center

On Friday, December 14, I will premiere an original five movement composition I call Vonology. After years of performing with Von and researching his presence in the world, I have put together an original musical expression about my mentor and friend. In my career, travels, and research I have conversed for hours and hours about Von with Steve Coleman, with countless Chicagoans as they remember moments of his solos or his stories of life and music, with George Freeman in his living room while he remembers childhood moments and gigs, and with Amsterdam musicians who speak passionately about Von’s affect on their music. From my years of playing with him and hearing the profound stories people tell, I have composed a piece that feeds off of Von’s large presence in the world, both in the past and as it lives in the present.

Von spoke often in symbolic language. One time he explained to me, after I asked him what he played in a crazy solo, that he imagined a tonic of a key surrounded by a rainbow and that he played in the rainbow, but always making sure to return to the tonic. Expressing musical processes in this way was an integral feature of conversing with him, as people’s memories have confirmed to me. Von was deeply versed in the Bible (the book of knowledge, as he called it) and astrology which he both used as symbolic systems to understand and explain music and humanity.

For this composition, I combined astrological symbolism and musical intuition to inform my musical process. Brian Allemana, a highly skilled in astrologer as well as my brother, made Von’s chart and interpreted the symbols (Von is a Libra, born October 3rd, 1923). I assigned pitches and rhythms to the most compelling meanings as they connect shapes within houses, planets, and other Zodiac signs. The result is a long form composition that combines interpretations from people of different jazz communities, my brother’s astrological vision, and my personal feelings for Von, all filtered through my musical vision, something Von always pushed me and countless of his horses to pursue.

Please come join us for this premiere:

Friday, December 14th, at 7pm at theSouth Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive.

More info: see the Jazz Institute of Chicago. I would like to thank Lauren Deutsch and the Jazz Institute of Chicago for their generous support of this project. Please become a member of this great organization.

Vonology:

Mike Allemana: Guitar and compositions

Victor Garcia: Trumpet

Greg Ward: Alto Sax

Geof Bradfield: Tenor Sax

Kendall Moore: Trombone

Tomeka Reid: Cello

Matt Ferguson: bass

Michael Raynor: drums

Voices: Sue Demel, Lindsay Weinberg, Alton Smith, and Bill Brickey

Conductor and author of astrological texts: Brian Allemana

 

  1. Mike Allemana/Greg Fishman Duo at Winter’s, Tuesday July 31, 7:30pm/9:30pm Leave a reply
  2. After Dark, Tuesday nights at Andy’s Leave a reply
  3. George Freeman and Mike Allemana, Green Mill, April 13 and 14 with Bernard Purdie Leave a reply
  4. Live at the Green Mill officially released!! Leave a reply
  5. Pre-order your copy of Live at the Green Mill on Ears&Eyes Records!!! Leave a reply
  6. Announcing pre-release fundraising campaign for the Freeman/Allemana 4tet with special guest Bernard Purdie Leave a reply
  7. Tammy McCann and Mike Allemana Live at Studio 5 in Evanston, Feb. 12 Leave a reply
  8. George Freeman performs “Birth Sign” at Fulton Street Collective January 18, 2017 Leave a reply
  9. September 29: the premier of my new trio at 210 Restaurant in Highwood Leave a reply