Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo /  International The

Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo

The "Arrival" Tour - Sax and Bass Duo


Sax and Bass, that’s all it takes. Making new Tradition in Tomorrow’s Past.

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Chico Freeman and Heiri Känzig duo in the studio while recording the new CD "The Arrival" on Intakt Records.

Chico Freeman 1 | Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo
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Heiri Känzig | Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo
Heiri Känzig
Chico and Heiri | Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo
Chico and Heiri


The Arrival CD Cover | Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo
The Arrival CD Cover
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Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig Duo /  International The

Transatlantic Dialogue

If jazz is „the sound of surprise“ (Whitney Balliet), the duo is its most essential test arrangement. Within the dialogue of the duo something proves particularly clear that is valid for all music. We have become used to summing up under the four-letter word “jazz”, that listening is as important as playing one’s self; that spontaneous interaction often depends on economy. Chico Freeman, saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, and composer from Chicago, an eminent improviser, whether “in ‘n out”, “free” or bound to guidelines (or both simultaneously), puts it simply: “it’s a tightrope walk. If you play too much, you take away the notes reserved for others and if you don’t play enough, your full potential is not achieved. If everyone in a group can find the balance between the two, then the magic appears, a sense of truth.”

Heiri Känzig, the New York born Swiss double bass virtuoso malgré lui (i.e. a virtuoso, who never acts out his virtuosity as fast finger artistry as an end in itself, but rather puts it under the bushel for the benefit of the context for emotional depth), formulates his credo of musical understatement no less simply: “What one doesn’t play, is sometimes more important than what one does play”. Now this duo unites these two, who initially found each other within the framework of the “Chico Freeman Fourtet”, in a stretto. There is this magic.

Heiri Känzig shares the passion for the gravitational center of the jazz tradition with Chico Freeman. Under the premise of its convertibility, and despite all of the ability for strong grooves, his preference is melodic. “I can play something else. But what I love is melody. That’s something most important. A good bass line is always a good melody. Otherwise it doesn’t groove. If you groove like hell and there’s no melody, it makes no sense“.

We can understand „The Arrival“, which is what the first CD of this duo is called, as an arrival in an intimate interior space, but also as an arrival in the center of jazz, something that is called „no nonsense music“ in the jargon of musicians such as Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron and George Cables. No avant-garde jazz, no traditional jazz, jazz in the present tense. To express it with a Freeman title: Tradition in Transition. In the transatlantic dialogue Freeman and Känzig mainly deal with each other via respective original compositions and shared findings. After long careers both of them have reached a point where they don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. Their joint venture displays a lovely sense of freedom and giving. These stimulate this music beyond all fashions and trends at every moment. There is plenty of space and plenty of breath for both of the partners as well as the listeners.

Peter Rüedi (excerpt from the liner notes to „The Arrival“, intakt Records 2015)


Chico Freeman’s musical journey has been one akin to that of an alchemist, providing the Midas touch to not only his projects, but also helping to create gold for others within the jazz, rhythm & blues, pop and world music musical realms.

A legendary concert at Lincoln Center in June 1982, by The Young Lions that launched the careers of many well known artists; a group critics hailed as the brightest hopes of jazz in the 1980’s - Chico Freeman, Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, Kevin Eubanks, Anthony Davis, and others - produced an album on which Freeman plays on nearly every cut. His 14-minute composition “Whatever Happened To The Dream Deferred?” was called “one of the best of the album” by the New York Times.

In 1986, when promoters in Europe were organizing superstar bands, Freeman brought together The Leaders - an all-star sextet of internationally recognized bandleaders. The groups first incarnation consisted of Don Cherry, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Don Pullen, Cecil McBee and Famadou Don Moye. Subsequent formations included Hilton Ruiz and finally the last incarnation saw Kirk Lightsey and Lester Bowie. This group set the standard for eclectic and innovative music from a band comprised entirely of composers/improvisers.

Freeman has recorded and performed with: McCoy Tyner Trio w/ Chico Freeman (5 years), Dizzy Gillespie, Elvin Jones (4 years), Reggie Workman, Herbie Hancock, Bill Cosby, Don Pullen, Sam Rivers, Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition (5 years), Dewey Redman, Dave Holland, Don Cherry, Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Kevin Eubanks, Muhal Richard Abrams, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdes, Irakere, Paquito d’Rivera, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Cassandra Wilson, Arturo Sandoval, among many others Freeman has performed in many types of jazz and world music collaborations: Antonio Gades, Paco de Lucia and other artists in flamenco music, traditional Japanese Shakuhachi flute music, Indian music, various styles of African music, as well as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian musical forms. Was a featured VIP artist at the “Festival Mondial des Arts Negres” (Black World Arts Festival) in Senegal Dec. 2010.

More recently Freeman has new CD’s from three new projects: The Chico Freeman 4tet featuring Antonio Farao, Heiri Känzig and Michael Baker. The new cd entitled “Spoken Into Existence” features songs written and conceived for his five daughters. Chico Freeman’s ‘The Chicago Project’, cd entitled “All In the Family” features his uncle guitarist George Freeman, brother of his father Von Freeman, with Mike Allemana - guitar, Kirk Brown - piano, Harrison Bankhead – bass, Hamid Drake – drums/percussion and Reto Weber – percussion. The new cd entitled “The Arrival”, a duo project with bassist Heiri Känzig and Chico Freeman. Additionally he is working with French violinist Didier Lockwood on the project ‘Chico Freeman Exotica’ which also features Svante Henryson, ECM recording artist on cello and percussionist Reto Weber, also an ECM artist.


Born in New York, bassist Heiri Känzig has been a long-term player on the international scene. Already at age 21, he has accompanied the great bebop trumpeter Art Farmer and since has played with innumerable and illustrious colleagues in Europe and the USA. Känzig, who studied in Graz, Vienna and Zurich, has long ranked among Europe's best bassists.
He is a virtuoso technician whose sound comes to the fore in the widest range of contexts from jazz and improvisation to World Music. He has received international acclaim as the long-standing bassist of the Vienna Art Orchestra, with which he has played since 1978. In high demand as a freelancer, he has played on over 150 CDs on Blue Note, Verve, ACT, Virgin, and WB.
He has regularly toured worldwide and recorded with a variety of musicians and, most notably, has played with such musicians as John Scofield, Billy Cobham, Pierre Favre, Adam Nussbaum, Bob Mintzer, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, NENA, Ralph Towner, Betty Carter, Art Farmer, Johnny Griffin, Andreas Vollenweider, Max Lässer, Daniel Humair, Christy Doran, Dominique Pifarely, Andreas Vollenweider, Gary Thomas, George Gruntz, Jerry Bergonzi, Mark Feldman, Didier Lockwood, Franco Ambrosetti, Glenn Ferris, Thierry Lang, Dieter Meier (Yello), David Linx, Richard Galliano, Gerry Allen und Billy Hart.
In the early 90s, Heiri Känzig formed his own quartet with Art Lande, Kenny Wheeler and François Laiszeau. Afterwards, he undertook projects with Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Mariano and Paul McCandless before joining up as bassist with the Thierry Lang Trio, with whom he recorded six CD's for the American Label Blue Note.
Most recently, he has gained major recognition with the project "Tien Shan Schweiz Express", which blends musical elements from Central Asia, Mongolia and Switzerland.
Currently he is touring with his own band DEPART (Jojo Mayer/Harry Sokal), Billy Hart/Charlie Miklin, Thierry Lang, Glenn Ferris, Lyoba, Jean Christoph Cholet Trio and is involved in a world music project with the Algerian Smahi Brothers and Billy Cobham a.o.
He is also working on his new Project " Buenos Aires" featuring Michael Zisman - Bandoneon and Matthieu Michel - Flugelhorn a.o.



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Oct 01, 2015

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May 04, 2015

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On the 13th and 14th of December 2014, the saxophonist Chico Freeman and bassist Heiri Känzig made a duo recording for a co-production by Intakt Records and Swiss Radio and Television. They met at Hard Studio in Winterthur... Chico Freeman, excelled with his wonderful tenor saxophone sound and insightful playing. Heiri Känzig with his highly virtuosic bass playing. The result is a collection of jazz ballads. The Duo-CD, “The Arrival”, will be released in the summer of 2015.


Ilse Weinmann

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Date Title Location Type Info
Jun 12, 2015 The Jazzclub Allmend Schlieren, Switzerland Performance  
Aug 29, 2015 Jazz Festival Willisau Willisau, Switzerland Performance  
Oct 09, 2015 Moods Zürich, Switzerland Performance  
Dec 05, 2015 Stadtkirche Jazz Im Church Biel/Bienne, Switzerland Performance  
Dec 08, 2015 Au Cheval Blanc Schiltigheim, France Performance  
Mar 11, 2016 Altes Pfandhaus Köln, Germany Performance  
Mar 12, 2016 SeeJazz Festival Berg-Kempfenhausen, Germany Performance  
Apr 08, 2016 Tangente Jazz+ Eschen, Liechtenstein Performance  
Oct 08, 2016 Unknown venue Graz, Performance  
Oct 13, 2016 Internationales Jazzfestival Leibnitz Jazz & Wein Leibnitz, Austria Performance  
There are no upcoming events scheduled.