Author Archives: Mike Allemana

Hip Licks for Guitar, just in time for the holidays

Greg Fishman has just released Volume 1 from his Hip Licks series for the guitar, and yours truly played the guitar part.  It’s tabbed and has a slick forward, too. Pick one up for your favorite guitarist for the holidays.  Email me (mike at the website) or go to Greg Fishman’s site.  The book comes with four CDs and 168 great licks.  Only $24.95 holiday sale price.


90 Years Old Today

Today would have been Von Freeman’s 90th birthday.  While taking a break from a Thomas Holt history course I reminisced about his 80h birthday celebrations in 2002 (yes, his 80th birthday was celebrated a year early–long story).  We recorded a new CD, The Improvisor, we performed concerts all over the city, and we went to Berlin to play the Berlin Jazz Festival, curated that year by John Corbett.  It was an exciting time.  I kept saying to myself, “Man, I hope I am physically able to do all this when I am 80,” admiring how strong Von was at his age.  When we went to Berlin Von not only walked from gate to gate for all the flights, he carried his horn, and only ate at the airport.  While he was in Berlin (not even 24 hours) he didn’t touch any food.  And he played so strong–check out Vonski Speaks for the proof.

Time flies, Von is gone, and I am here thinking about my mentor on his 90th.  Hope you are swingin’ up a storm wherever you are, Vonski.6

Into the fire…

Today I step into the academic world and officially start the PhD program in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago.  This past week I was welcomed into the program, into the School of Music, and into the Humanities Division with such warmth it was hard to believe it was real.  I met my comrades coming into the school, 4 brilliant minds in Music Theory, History, and Composition, and also met my ethnomusicology colleagues that are all at various stages in the ethno program.  Everyone I met was friendly and welcoming and every single one of them is working on a fascinating project.  I also met the entire faculty and was humbled by the fact that I will be working with such brilliant minds over the next few years. I’ll be posting updates as I go along this journey.  Stay tuned….

Caroline Davis 4tet all this week.


Caroline Davis has three cool gigs coming up this week with the 4tet.  Come on out–she’s been writing some great new music and sounding more amazing every day.

Tuesday, September 24, at the MCA, 5:30pm.

Wednesday, September 25, at Constellation, 9:30pm.

Hyde Park Jazz Festival is this week.  Always a great time and getting bigger and bigger every year.  We are playing, Saturday, September 28 at 5:30pm at the Hyde Park Bank, 1525 E. 53rd st.

Hangin’ at the Brubeck Institute

Just got back from a fun couple of days doing workshops and a lecture at the Brubeck Institute.  My old buddy, guitarist Nick Fryer, is helping run things there and doing a great job.  The Director of the Institute, pianist Simon Rowe, has a great program; 5 super talented young musicians study jazz performance for 2 years at the Institute, which is located at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.  They play everyday and do gigs almost every week.  And they have lots of guest artists–vibraphonist Stefon Harris is the artist-in-residence this year.  The quintet is a group of very talented young musicians–check them out and remember these names.  The future of jazz is in good hands!

Max Boiko, Trumpet, from Fort Lauderdale, FL; Joel Ross, Vibraphones, from Chicago, IL; Sean Britt, Guitar, from Hingham, MA; Sarah Kuo, Bass, from Los Angeles, CA; Jalon D’Mere Archie, Drums, from Houston, TX

August with the George Freeman/Mike Allemana 4tet

Just wanted to say how much George and I appreciate what Mike Reed at Constellation did for us in August.  Not only was it a great time but George and I have become much closer.  And we are a band–we really love performing together and with Pete and Mike. Stay tuned for our next dates.

George took a great solo on “It Could Happen To You” on our last night, August 29.  His feel, sense of space, phrasing, is so good here.  Kicked everybody’s butt.  Ben Patterson is sitting in organ and Sharif Zaben is sitting in on drums.

Jazz Fest notes, 2013

Played with Randy Weston on August 30th, the Friday evening of the Chicago Jazz Festival.  Just being on the same stage, in the same room, and in the same music with Mr. Weston was a transformative experience.  Pianist Ryan Cohen and I both commented at soundcheck how Randy sits in a higher plane of consciousness when he is performing–his comping is so magical and his ideas just flow and have a deep connection to the composition and the moment.  Performing Geof Bradfield’s “Melba!” was also an incredible experience–Geof’s writing has been some of my favorite new jazz work these past few years and I think he really nailed the feelings he was going for in “Melba!”  It was an honor be part of all the festivities.  Thanks to Stan Lee, photographer and partner of Chicago jazz bassist Marlene Rosenberg, for getting this shot of Randy and I.