Free Radicals

Free Radicals

 Houston, Texas, USA
BandJazzSka

13 time winner in Houston Press' Music Awards for Best Jazz, Free Radicals, delivers horn-driven funk, Latin, Afrobeat, klezmer and ska influenced music.

"The horn-heavy, continually evolving collective Free Radicals produces a wildly eclectic fusion that has as many influences as there are items in the Houston, Texas, pawnshop in which they honed their sound during all-night jam sessions." - The New Yorker

Biography

Drummer Nick Cooper founded the group in 1996, with a goal of specializing in improvised music and collaborating with rappers. Cooper and bari sax player Pete Sullivan are the longest-remaining members, but Jason Jackson (alto sax) and Al Bear (guitar) have been in the band over a decade. In 2015, long time collaborator and Free Rads Street Band sousaphonist Nick Gonzalez bought a bass amp and took over low-end duties. New additions include Matt Serice (trumpet), and Tom VandenBoom (trombone). Frequent collaborators and guest musicians include Al Pagliuso (percussion), Harry Sheppard (vibes), Nelson Mills III (trumpet), and Subhendu Chakraborty (tablas).

In 2000, The New Yorker wrote "The horn-heavy, continually evolving collective Free Radicals produces a wildly eclectic fusion that has as many influences as there are items in the Houston, Texas, pawnshop in which they honed their sound during all-night jam sessions."

In 2010, Dawn, The widest circulated English language publication in Pakistan, wrote that the artwork and message about underwater oil-leaks, oil-wars, and bank-crashes on the band's first CD, The Rising Tide Sinks All (1998),  was like a "premonition waiting to become true."

On subsequent recordings — Our Lady of Eternal Sunny Delights (2000), Aerial Bombardment (2004), The Freedom Fence (2012), and Freedom of Movement (2015) — Free Radicals invited a group of 50 or more musicians and vocalists into the studio.

Free Radicals performs many concerts, marches and fund-raisers for anti-authoritarian and radical groups like food not bombs, peace festivals, and even a continuous 24-hour concert to raise money for charity. They have protested against Halliburton, and participated in marches for immigrants' rights, against the death penalty, against US and Israeli aggression, and for a Houston janitor's union.

Free Radicals has won the following 20 Houston Press awards:
    1998: Best Jazz, Best Unsigned Band
    1999: Best Jazz, Best Funk, Best Drummer
    2001: Best Jazz
    2002: Best Jazz
    2003: Best Jazz
    2004: Best CD by Local Musicians
    2008: Best Jazz
    2009: Best Jazz, Best Drummer
    2010: Best Jazz
    2011: Best Jazz
    2012: Best CD, Best Song, Best Jazz
    2013: Best Jazz
    2014: Best Jazz
    2015: Best Jazz


Discography

LPs

Freedom of Movement
The Freedom Fence
Aerial Bombardment
Our Lady of Eternal Sunny Delight
The Rising Tide Sinks All

Set List

A typical set list would include all original tunes, much of it from The Freedom Fence. Depending on the crowd we can play a full set of up-tempo danceable music, jazzier, backing up rappers or vocalists, or even street band style.

Sets typically last for one or one and a half hours. We can play multiple sets as we have a lot of varied material.