In Memoriam: Carter Freije

From Roger Zahab, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Carter Freije was an extraordinary musician and gifted percussionist who attended New York University and Penn State before he came to Pitt in the Spring of 2017. He planned to finish his undergraduate studies as a Jazz track Music Major as quickly as possible so that he could jump back into his performance career, which seemed to have already been in full swing when he was at NYU.

Carter was so many things all at once: musically brilliant, stylistically omnivorous, and somehow truly generous, patient, intense, and caring all at the same time. He had an immense knowledge of jazz history, musicians, and repertoire. For his senior recital he selected obscure but great songs that are rarely performed live and provided detailed information for each, and – true to his generous nature – made his recital a Benefit concert for Center of Life, a community-empowerment organization in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh that he tirelessly worked for. When he performed in any group it felt like there were electric sparks flying between his drum set and his band mates. I’ll never forget his face as he played – a combination of total awareness and freedom from constraints.

Carter seemed distant at times – one sensed struggles that he preferred to keep private -  but those of us who got to know him cherished and felt strong desires to support him, and expected not only to merely stay in touch but to continue our adventures with him when and wherever possible.

It is with overwhelming sadness that we learned that Carter Freije took his own life on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 25.

Words seem useless except: love and cherish one another, be ready to listen as intently as you can, and reach out …

Carter’s close friend Patrick Breiner has created the Carter Freije  Memorial Fund at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Contributions may also be made to the Carter Freije Memorial Jazz Scholarship Fund through the State College Music Boosters, PO Box 605, State College PA 16804.

Obituary for Carter James Freije, 1994–2019