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ENCORE: Noel Freidline & Maria Howell Are Bringing Back That Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

April Freidline.jpg
April Freidline
Noel Freidline and Maria Howell performing jazz music.

The reports of jazz music's death have been greatly exaggerated, and world-traveling band leader Noel Freidline and acclaimed actress/vocalist Maria Howell are here to prove it.

"Cutting your teeth is real. I cut mine here in Charlotte and then I went out. It’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
– Maria Howell, jazz vocalist

Interview Highlights:

On falling in love with jazz music:

Noel Freidline: I remember sitting there in this dark hall watching this guy [play] who I’d never heard before. I remember thinking, “Gosh, that’s what I want to do. I want to play piano just like that” — never ever thinking I would ever get a chance to do it.

The cool thing is a week or so ago, I was sitting at a concert with Maria and I was going, “I can’t believe I’m getting to do this!” It’s never worn off. It’s one of those moments, you have when you’re younger and you’ll chase it for the rest of your life. I’ve been chasing it for the rest of my life.”

Maria Howell: One time our house caught on fire and it was right after Christmas. We had just gotten this new stereo system. I’ll never forget it — we were in the car. My Dad got us out safe and sound, and I remember saying, “Oh my God, I've got to get my record player, I’ve got to get my records,” and I ran back into a burning house to get them. In the middle of the night, I had to save the records.

Noel Freidline on controlling his own career:

I put this band together because when I was in college, I hated waiting for the phone to ring. I’m a bit of a control freak.

Maria Howell on working with Freidline:

Every time someone asks about how long we've been working together, because we have such a good rapport. And perception is reality. Seriously, I love working and playing with Noel. People always ask, “How long have you guys been working together?” It’s been about eight years now.

Noel Freidline on becoming a Charlotte musician:

I started feeling really like a Charlotte musician when the series that is down at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Jazz at the Bechtler, kicked off. We had 30 people the first month, and the next month we had 60. A month later, we had a 100, then 120. And within six months we had 300 people showing up to this thing. Then we expanded to two shows, and we’ve been doing two shows sold out basically for eight, nine years now. But that’s when I kind of started feeling the roots and making a connection with Charlotte audiences.

Maria Howell on where she "cut her teeth" in Charlotte:

[I was singing at] Jonathans’ Jazz Cellar down on the corner of 7th Street and North Tryon six nights a week. Can we talk about learning how to do a show and pace yourself? Every Wednesday I was hoarse, every Wednesday. So, I learned how to pace myself. I learned how to give the same show for five people as I would give for about 10,000.

Music featured in this #WFAEAmplifier chat:

Noel & Maria - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Billie Holiday - “Summertime”
Dave Brubek Quartet - “Blue Rondo à la Turk"
Dave Brubek Quartet - “Take Five”
Noel Freidline Quartet - “New York State of Mind”
Noel Freidline Quartet - “My Favorite Things”
Noel Freidline Quartet - “Old Devil Moon”

Stay Connected:

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Joni Deutsch was the manager for on-demand content and audience engagement, at WFAE, where also hosted the Amplified podcast and helped produce such podcasts as FAQ City, SouthBound, Inside Politics, Work It and the Apple Podcast chart-topping series She Says. Joni also led WFAE's and Charlotte's first podcast festival.