Free Joseph

Global Rythym

World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

 
       
 
 
 
 

Free Joseph
Speaking In Tongues
Far Island Vision FIVD003
By Judson Kilpatrick

Published October 28, 2005

Ironically, considering the title, this set is completely instrumental. It features reggae singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Fitzroy “Free” Joseph playing flute over dub versions from his forthcoming vocal album Believers And Non Believers. These haunting tracks are reminiscent of Augustus Pablo’s classic melodica dubs, but the drums are punchier, and there are noticeable jazz/funk undercurrents.

Though he hails from Dominica, the “Nature Island of the Caribbean,” Free Joseph now spends half of his time in Concord, NH, and the album was recorded in New York City. “Chuck-A-Dub,” in particular, exhibits strong American influences. With its funky organ riffs and careening drum rolls, it sounds like a long-lost “acid jazz” cut from 1990. The organ riffs of “Electric Bob” are laid over a rhythm propulsive enough to dance to, and there’s even a rock-style guitar solo at the end. The catchy, up-tempo “Simple” could be a reggae version of that perkiest of hits: Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking On Sunshine.” So, while the idea of flute solos over dub might sound like the ultimate “chill-out” music, this set will keep you groovin’.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

New Hampshire Magazine

World Music Central

Every Tongue Shall Tell

04/17/2005

Contributed by: Tom Orr

Free Joseph

Speaking in Tongues (Far Island Vision FIVD003, 2005)

Free Joseph has been a working reggae musician for many years, proficient on various instruments and having performed extensively on both U.S. coasts (particularly the west) and abroad. Presently he divides his time between his birthplace on the Caribbean island of Dominica and Concord, New Hampshire. His most recent CD, Speaking in Tongues, would be most readily categorized as reggae, but let's not be hasty here. It's an instrumental album, the dominant instrument being, somewhat surprisingly, the flute. And while the pulse of reggae is almost entirely present throughout, it's not hard imagining this beautiful music fitting into jazz, easy listening or even new age formats.

There's an uplifting, heartfelt vibe that infuses the whole thing, with tracks like "Simple," "Right Way a Wrong" and "Essence of Love" giving an idea of what's on Free's mind even though there's no lyrics to provide clarification (the title thus takes on a kind of mystic irony that adds to the disc's ample appeal).

Absent is much of the militant quality often associated with reggae, though there is a strong sense of roots in the grooves even when they're laced with such things as harmonica or synth strings. In a way, Free does with the flute what Augustus Pablo did with the melodica- he takes a signature instrument and places it in a reggae context to create a fresh sound. Call it reggae, call it craftily catchy instrumental music, call it music that's both laid back and energizing to mind and body. Speaking in Tongues speaks volumes of great listening on every level.

[Buy Speaking in Tongues ].

 

Heart of New Hampshire Magazine

Free Joseph
Speaking in Tongues
Reggae For Everyman (and Woman)

On an afternoon when the streets of Concord are covered with a foot of new snow, the last thing one would expect to be doing is meeting with a Reggae musician. But that’s just what I’m doing here on Washington Street. I’m here to meet with Reggae musician Fitzroy “Free” Joseph - star native of the Caribbean island of Dominica and half time resident of Concord.

“Free”  as everyone knows him, divides his time between his island home and the home of his partner and love Wini Dean a long time resident of New Hampshire and a long time favorite in the Concord area community since the days when she ran one of Concord’s most chic boutiques on Main Street.

One can’t very well do a profile on Free these days without recognizing that Wini is not only his romantic island, but also the foundation of his growing reputation. Since their ships passed the first time, Wini has become his number one fan and his marketing go-to-gal .  .  . lucky for him, because it’s working.

Free’s latest album “Speaking in Tongues” just released has hit the streets with critical acclaim and for very good reason. “Speaking in Tongues” as well as his first CD "He is Here" is Reggae for everyman and woman.

Set aside your preconceived notions about Reggae – even if you love it – for just a moment. Close your eyes and imagine a soothing musical feast that’s a little bit Marley, a little bit George Winston, a little bit Charlie Parker, and a whole lot of peace and tranquility. Do this and you’ll begin to understand why this album may just be the one that catapults Free Joseph into the broader musical mainstream.


As a musician, short of Stevie Wonder and Emitt Rhodes (we know, we are really reaching back there!) there are few who have the instrumental versatility of Free Joseph. Free plays just about every instrument one would need to experience Reggae in its purest form. But the magic of “Speaking in Tongues” is Free’s Flute. Simply put, Free’s flute makes this album a magical experience.

Chuck Foster, who hosts one of the county’s largest Reggae radio shows “Reggae Central” out of KPFK in Los Angeles say’s: “Free’s flute soars and floats, creating a gentle genre bending style all his own.”  Like others, Foster has a hard time putting his finger on the style because it is so unique. “New Age? Smooth Jazz? We call it reggae but no matter what you call it, this dubby instrumental set will grab you and hold you for a long, long time.”

Among reggae aficionados, Fitzroy "Free" Joseph is widely acknowledged as a Rasta singer-musician of the first order. Born on the island of Dominica, West Indies, Free Joseph's musical life was launched in 1969 when he began to express himself with the guitar, bass, melodica, bamboo flute and piano. After leaving Dominica, Free's considerable talent afforded him the opportunity to see the world, playing and singing his way to the shores of many Caribbean countries, including the French Antilles, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Antigua, St. Croix, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, where he twice won the highly coveted first prize in a National Music competition.

In 1981, Free brought his musical wherewithal to the United States where his talents were immediately utilized as a "gigging" musician. He performed from New York to California as a solo artist at venues with such talents as Joe Higgs, Burning Spear, the Wailing Souls, Ras Michael, and the Sons of Nagus and the legendary Augustus Pablo.

Free decided to settle in Los Angeles where he quickly became a well-known local fixture with his I Science band. Among other local musical accomplishments, Free and his band played for many years at the annual Afrikan Marketplace and brought down the house each time they performed. Free has played with great success at such venues as Kingston 12, the Music Machine, Club Lingerie, the Roxy, Cal State Long Beach and UCLA. He played the Apollo in New York as well as the Notting Hill Carnival in London. Continuing to broaden his horizons Free performed in Toronto and Hawaii as well as Holy Land of Israel where he performed at The Shack in Tel Aviv. He so loved Israel that he stayed for three months.

Free's musical influences are many and include Jimmy Cliff, Sam Cooke, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Miriam Makeba, Malo Poets, Minnie Ripperton - and his very special mother and grandmother.

Besides being a singer, songwriter and musician, Free is also a gifted writer of serious poetry who has had his first collection of poetry, " Watching Faces of Time" published in 1989. His single " Tell Me Why " which received considerable airplay on college radio stations was released in 1987 and became an important part of his first CD “He is Here”.

Free Joseph's overriding interest is " to give mankind soul-searching music that can help heal the wounds of tribulation. " With the release of “Speaking in Tongues” Free steps outside of the ordinary into the land of the extraordinary and begins to demostrate the convergence of interest and reality. Free’s artistry is an intensely positive force of international musical consciousness which expresses and exemplifies his personal commitment to freedom, justice and love of humanity. “Speaking in Tongues” is, simply put, not to be missed.
 

Free Joseph . . .remember this name, because you are going to hear a whole lot more about him in the very near future.