Thirty-something-year-old Chicago-based saxophonist, composer and bandleader Chris Greene is no overnight sensation. He has paid his dues on the Chicago club scene since the early 90’s, playing in bands like The Trippin’ Billies and Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six, and freelanced on the city’s rich jazz scene. He studied at Indiana University, home of one of the country’s strongest Jazz Studies Programs, and formed his first band, Chris Greene and New Perspective, in 1994. That band performed regularly, and released two albums of what Greene calls “electric jazz/funk/hip-hop/fusion” music, “On The Verge” (1998) and “jazz” (2004). In 2005 he formed his current unit, The Chris Greene Quartet (or “CGQ”), a band that has maintained a stable roster since its inception.
CGQ features Greene on tenor and soprano saxophone, Damian Espinosa on primarily acoustic piano (but also occasionally on electric keyboard), Marc Piane on acoustic bass and drummer Tyrone Blair. The CGQ has forged a unique sonic identity through the immediate personal chemistry these four remarkable musicians discovered when they first played together, and through subsequent steady work. In many ways, as Greene designed the band to be, they are a throwback to the classic Blue Note label jazz units - bands that featured stable personnel, hard-swinging and thought-provoking music, with a sensibility that was at one time rooted in the popular culture but was very definitely high-concept art; in other words, music for both body and mind.
The new cd, “Merge”, follows in the footsteps of the CGQ’s “Soul and Science: Volume One” and “Soul and Science 2: Electric Boogaloo”. The track list for Merge includes a healthy serving of Greene’s original compositions, as well as a tune by pianist Espinosa, jazz standards by Billy Strayhorn and Johnny Green, and one tune each by Madonna and The Black-Eyed Peas. Recorded in 2009 at Experimental Sound Studios in Chicago, the cd captures a working band at the height of its powers, with all of the telepathic communication that only a working ensemble can marshal. Greene’s influences, from Sonny Rollins to Maceo Parker, electric Miles to Prince, are clearly evident, as well is the fact that he has become his own man. Although it is definitely Greene’s band and conception, Espinosa, Piane and Blair are by no means mere sidemen; the blueprint for the band allows – in fact, demands – equal contributions from all chairs. While all of the guys have deep roots in the history of jazz, they also do not deny that they grew up with the sounds of pop, rock, funk, r&b, hip-hop and the blues in their ears. A Jazz at the Philharmonic blowing session this ain’t.
The CGQ continues to be one of the busiest working bands in Chicago, performing regularly at places like M Lounge, Pete Miller’s, Andy’s Jazz Club, Red Kiva, and most recently at that holy grail of Windy City jazz joints, The Jazz Showcase. They are steadily earning a reputation as one of Chicago’s most exciting ensembles. Greene is becoming known as one of the city’s finest rising instrumentalists. Catch them locally while you can!
Chris Greene on saxophones, Damian Espinosa on piano, Marc Piane on acoustic bass, and Tyrone Blair on drums.
Soul and Science - Volume One (2007)
Soul and Science 2: electric boogaloo" (2008)
"Merge" (Nov 2009)
…an almost impossibly nimble sax player…
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Greene...provides twists and turns...cleanly phrased ideas, which are fun to follow...manages to mix...Greene...provides twists and turns...cleanly phrased ideas, which are fun to follow...manages to mix it up, finding the appropriate sound for each selection by employing a varied set of saxes to nicely accomodate the needed mood shifts.
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…rivals some of what is played on contemporary jazz music stations across the United States...a form...…rivals some of what is played on contemporary jazz music stations across the United States...a formidable band.
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When done right, a really good jazz album does a “what if?” on your ear drums in ways that other gen...When done right, a really good jazz album does a “what if?” on your ear drums in ways that other genres just can’t. That’s why I’m diggin’ Soul & Science Vol. 1 from Chicago sax man’s band, the Chris Greene Quartet. Comprised of Greene, Damian Espinosa on piano, Marc Piane on acoustic bass, and Tyrone Blair on drums, CGQ are part of a generation of young jazz guns who are melding their classic jazz chops with urban, soul roots. And the results are the jazz world needs.
S&S is only 6-tracks including some out-the-box and soulful covers—one of Sting’s King of Pain, plus Stevie Wonder’s Boogie On Reggae Woman and Miles Davis’ Caravan, plus a couple original comps from Greene who handles the bulk of the group’s arranging duties.
Now the easy way out of covers is to do the “smooth jazz” version of the original. (Play it softer, slower, and Kenny G/David Sanborn-it within an inch of its life, or until Starbucks or Windamhill calls you for a compilation).
Fortunately, CGQ took some risks—gave you enough of a skeleton to remember it, but then fleshed it out in different ways so that it just sounded more original, but still had a lot of soul; especially on the King of Pain cover which despite running 12 minutes, felt pretty strong start-to-finish. But even on CGQ’s original stuff (4.23), which hints at a little more laid-back vibe—there’s a definite lyrical and soul feel to their playing—you could almost hear someone singing it places where the horns and piano were.
Overall, Soul & Science lives up to its name, show-casing a young hungry band full of fire and thoughtfulness and diverse influences and not afraid to mix it up and show it off.
Bridget Arnwine (#2)
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Other than that, Greene has shown that pop, rock and R&B tunes can all exist on a jazz record becaus...Other than that, Greene has shown that pop, rock and R&B tunes can all exist on a jazz record because, stripped to their very core, they are all music. What a great discovery.
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...in fact, what makes [them] a pleasure to listen to is the total band interplay at work: these guy......in fact, what makes [them] a pleasure to listen to is the total band interplay at work: these guys make every note count, don't solo just for the sake of it, and don't turn the grooves into ruts. Those are the qualities necessary for a great Jazz album."
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"Influenced, as [ the Chris Greene is] by nearly a half century's worth of brilliance, they are quit..."Influenced, as [ the Chris Greene is] by nearly a half century's worth of brilliance, they are quite able to advance the idea that jazz, above all music forms, is not a static construct but one which continually evolves. [Their music] shows that the boys are quite capable of moving freely... impeccable soloing."
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...amazing young talent...Chris Greene has sold me on his ability and his drive to be one of the bes......amazing young talent...Chris Greene has sold me on his ability and his drive to be one of the best of all time. Hell, you can hear him learning with every note.
[Greene is an] alto sax dynamo...who threads each tune with high-octane uplift.
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[Greene] brings to the table new interpretations with a wholesome willingness to explore and redefin...[Greene] brings to the table new interpretations with a wholesome willingness to explore and redefine the past.
The length of a set depends on event and/or venue. In a club setting, 3 one hour sets is or 1 60-minute set and one 90-minute set is preferred. In concert, an ideal set is 90 minutes.
A set will include any combination of original music or our distinctive takes on familiar standards or pop hits.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.