Freddie Eckstine: The Legacy Lives!

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Freddie Eckstine: "My hat is off to Wynton Marsalis and his family for their considerable efforts to keep jazz alive. New Orleans was a great loss for the jazz world. However, bigger than jazz or any music, is the crushing blow those folks down there suffered...."


The magic of Billy Eckstine shines on through his son, Freddie Eckstine, whose amazing talent has enabled him to carve out his own star power while still paying tribute to the memory of his father. 

Freddie who hails from Chicago now basks in the bright lights and glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas hotels, casinos, and boardwalks.  Indeed, he is on a “Sentimental Journey� that assures the ‘Eckstine’ Jazz legacy lives on. 

There is no doubt that Freddie is Mr. ‘B’s’ son.  The gene pool kicked in and brought forth a matching set in appearance and in vocal similarity, great news for Billy Eckstine fans.  Freddie Eckstine’s ability to croon romantic jazz melodies that venerate his dad, combined with his own mastery over soul, funk, blues, gospel, and R&B music, make him unforgettable. 

His versatility places him among the premiere entertainers on the Vegas strip.   He’s headlined at The Sahara, The Sun Coast Hotel and Casino, The Orleans, Sam’s Town and the Boardwalk as the star of “Sentimental Journey.�  His sold out performances pay tribute to his father, Billy Eckstine and the Divine One, Ms. Sarah Vaughn.

More recently, Freddie, who is occasionally referred to as the Scion of Soul, due to his genuine charm, deep velvety bass and baritone pipes, packaged his soulful sound via his CD “St. Croix.� He will bring that same jazzy soul to Helsinki, Finland when he appears as one of the main artists at Helsinki’s 21st Annual Music Festival, April Jazz Espoo, via the invitation of Martii Lappalainen, founder and leader of the Espoo Big Band.

“I am so excited about that.  It’s my first headline jazz festival.  Although, it’s still in the ground breaking stages, I am hoping to record an album before the festival starts so I can present it to the folks there� stated Eckstine.  “Believe it or not, the Finnish are very much into jazz. In fact, they are students of jazz. They cannot only tell good music when they hear it, they can recite at a moments notice some of the jazz greats and their contributions to American jazz.  I would like to combine several genres of blues, funk, and R&B melodies into a big band jazz format for the festival� said Freddie.

“We are hoping that this thing launches into a European tour which includes Sweden.  Swedes are great devotees of jazz.  There was a period in America, around the time that the Beatles came over, when music changed and many jazz artists found themselves having to go abroad in an attempt to survive.  In fact, one of those musicians was my father, “Mr. B.� 

He took Sarah Vaughn with him and right behind him was Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and all the greats.  They found a wonderful home there. I am hoping to achieve the same goal.  You know there will be some that say America had a home for musicians back then, but the truth of the matter is America didn’t.  And in some ways, that holds true to this day� said the man known as the Ambassador of the Blues.

“My hat is off to Wynton Marsalis and his family for their considerable efforts to keep jazz alive.  New Orleans was a great loss for the jazz world.  However, bigger than jazz or any music, is the crushing blow those folks down there suffered.  My prayers remain constant for the people of New Orleans in their valiant effort to rebuild their city� remarked the multitalented performer.

Freddie is a big band leader.  “I was fortunate enough to be invited as one of the headliners at the Joe Williams Foundation Annual Benefit where I was able to use a lot of big band charts.  We experimented with a few things and it turned out to be a great success.  I hope to do the same next year� said Freddie of his love of big band music.

Billie Eckstine was well known for supporting young musicians, he was very helpful to the young Miles Davis, Gene Ammons and Leo Parker when they first started out.  In fact, they became affectionately known as “B’s babies.’  “Mr. “B� was very instrumental in the start of Sarah Vaughn’s career, Ruth Brown, and even comedians Tom Dreesen, and Redd Foxx.  My father loved a good joke.  He helped many people and that has rubbed off on me too� remarked Freddie.

“You know Ruth Brown is a wonderful lady and a great mentor.  She is very uplifting and encouraging.  You know sometimes due to her legs she has to sit down while performing. I just look at that as her sitting on her throne with all her subjects around her while she entertains with her whole heart� claimed Freddie.  “There was a time Dad took Ruth, the Four Tops, and Count Basie on tour.  They experienced a lot of hate and racism on the road.  However it lent itself to their fortitude and gave them a strong foundation so they could weather all the storms of prejudice.  They stuck together and made it through� recalled Freddie proudly of his father’s bravery.  “I wish there were a museum that paid tribute to all those pioneers who made major contributions to American music, oftentimes under extreme conditions� remarked Eckstine about America’s shameful past.

Freddie was reminded of a family tale or two.  “My grandmother was the understudy for her girl friends Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson.  I recall a special moment when I observed these great ladies singing acappella in the kitchen together while preparing pound cake.  My childhood experiences were rich in music. At first I resisted but finally gave into it. Now, here I am today paying tribute to the wonderful Mr. ‘B.�  I have been accused of riding on my father’s coattails.  However, I will tell anyone: ‘No, I am not riding on his coattails. I am standing on his shoulders.  And, they are very broad shoulders, indeed.’�

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