Greg Chako
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Greg Chako

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"PAINT A PICTURE, TELL A STORY"

 ”Our first listen to Greg's wonderful guitar work is deeply satisfying, & (without doubt) an excursion into the adventure that his music imparts... over half the tracks are originals, and (as many who read this 'zine know), that makes it an automatic winner for this reviewer.  There is just something about tunes penned by the artist that lets you know right where they are coming from!  My favorite original on this outing is "Murtabop" - influences all the way from NYC to China & back (including some Indian food, which is where the title comes from).  This cut is like a trip 'round the world in 6:32, & is relentless in the energy it conveys for getting ones' fingers wrapped 'round LIFE... certainly brings out the theme of the title - I can see those outdoor markets I used to cruise through in Thailand, or Korea, very clearly when I listen to this sweet little tune.  Another favorite is track # 7, "What da' Funk"... some real (& legitimate) groovin' happening here; when the rhythm doubles up, you'll be itchin' to get on yer' FEET, peepz!  True jazz aficionados will HAVE to have this one in their collection - Greg is a master!  I'm impressed enough to declare this one the "PICK" of this issue for "best all-round jazz" - without qualification, it is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information from Greg's site, at www.gregchako.com or look at the promo kit, HERE!” - Rotcod Zzaj recvd Aug 1 Celebrity Cafe


"Where We Find Ourselves"

Talk about a reality check on so many levels.  What kind of balls does it take to record a double album of all original jazz in four days and make it sound like a classic Bluenote, World Pacific or Verve date?  Someone must have grown up eating Rudy Van Gelder sessions for breakfast to absorb this kind of vibe.  Chako straddles being familiar and unique in the same interval with such style that you're sure you've been here before but you know you haven't.  This is simply a delightful heaping helping of cool jazz that moves and grooves and is sure to win you over before the first track is over.  Why is this guy recording for his own label?  You put the machine behind this cat and you could crash Amazon's servers.

- Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap


"Two's Company, Three's A Crowd"

This CD, he features two of his favorites, both splendid talents, Homei Matsumoto and Hiroshi Tanaka. They’re sophisticated and inventive soloists, and either would be an asset to any first-rate jazz group. And I’m sure Chako is thrilled to be working with such superb talent.  But then, there’s the issue of keeping a bass line moving, something no doubt endemic to American musicians. Chako is really earning his money because, when he’s not soloing, he’s not laying out. Sure, both pianists get a left hand line going, but it’s without the authority in timbre or resonance that a bass line on a guitar produces, much less a bass fiddle.  
When Chako solos, his lines are original and imaginative, with a crisp attack, but mostly a big, warm tone. Any jazz guitar enthusiast should have Greg Chako on radar. He has a cool situation in the Far East where he’s found some extraordinary piano players. But he’s worthy of any jazz group anywhere and has something that’s often elusive among guitarists: a style! More power to him.

- Jim Carlton, Just Jazz Guitar


""Integration II""

"Guitarist Greg Chako is a forward thinker and this two disc set presents his vision, serving as a musical road map. The combination of Chako's acoustic guitar with horns, percussion, keyboards, and acoustic bass lends his group a wholly original sound, with sweet surprises all over this set. These songs move through swing, the blues, and ballads.
Sonically speaking, this set is oustanding. The cymbals are bright, the drums pop, and each instrument comes out sparkling and clear In this age of reissues and alternate takes, it's refreshing to hear jazz that takes some chances and looks the future right in the eye" - All About Jazz.com


""Integration""

"Hard Bop is the focus of most cuts often mixed with rhythms and sounds of the Far East. All show flair, imaginative application of tempo and harmony, and unexpected jagged rhythmic diversions guaranteed to keep listener attention. Integration is recommended! - All Music Guide, USA


""Sudden Impact""

"...old standbys get spiced up with latin rhythmns, experiencing a sudden ubiquity and fresh sound... The originals have a contemporary sound, colored with understated funk and backbeats, and girded with interesting structures... He uses his thumb to execute winningly lyrical lines made up of pillow-like notes... well worth exploring." - Cadence Magazine, USA


"Integration I & II"

"Integration I & II is the culmination of many studio hours, tremendous discipline, concentration, and the ability to employ all musical strengths in every composition. Chako says that Integration has a multi-purpose meaning. In terms of relating on a human level it refers to the four aspects of our being; spirit, emotion, intellect, and body. On a level concerning the music it's relating to the diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds found in Chakos' band. When was the last time you heard, if ever, the didgeridoo used in a contemporary jazz setting? I can't say I ever have. I found it very complimentary, and it gives the music a distinctness and world-feel, without taking anything away. Instead of dismantling the essence and core of a composition it enhances it. These two recordings are a jazz mosaic painted with the very best of cultural, ethnic, and musical sensibilities. That striking combination provides a sumptuousness and extensiveness in the music that is rarely found in any genre.

Whether it's the be-bop of 'Funky Monkey' or the gentle acoustic flow of 'Smooth Ride' ala Joe Pass, this collection of songs has something for everyone's taste. Every jazz discipline, or parts thereof, is given an acknowledgement. Chako is up to the task on the electric or acoustic six-string, allowing the necessary elasticity for each song to build upon itself and congeal. After over 130 minutes of a trip around the jazz galaxy, I think it's safe to say that Greg Chako and his magnificent band are one of the world's best kept secrets. The word is now out; don't hesitate in seeking out this essential jazz experience." - Keith 'MuzikMan' Hannaleck, JazzReviews, USA


"Paint A Picture, Tell A Story…."

I have reviewed a couple of albums by Greg Chako. He is an excellent jazz guitarist. Now I get to review yet another album by Chako. This one also features the talents of Christy Smith and Mark DeRose. The title of the album is Paint A Picture, Tell A Story….
Greg's style has been called straight ahead jazz with a swinging style. His playing has been described as warm, spontaneous and respectful, with imaginative and original lines. Quite nice things to say about a jazz guitarist. But once you have heard Greg play, especially on this new album, You will tend to agree with what others are saying; Greg Chako is a fantastic jazz guitarist.
Not only did Greg grab up the talents of bassist, Smith and drummer DeRose, he also has saxophonist Greg Lyons playing on songs. And if that isn't enough, there are a couple of guest performers. Don Bryon plays bass clarinet on several songs. Joe Hayaveeran plays tambla on one song. Joe's nephew Jayagowtham plays mridangam on the same song. And the great trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis plays trombone on the album.
Cycles is the first song on the album. An original composition by Greg, this is a nicely paced tune. It kind of reminded me of an old ‘60's movie street scene, with the female leading meandering down a busy street.
The second song, Next, has a lot of nice bass and tenor sax. This is complemented well by Greg's guitar.
Murtabop is a very busy song. This is the one that features the mridagam and tambla. In the liner notes for the album, Greg says that the song is named after the Indian food dish called Murtabok. In the same note, Greg tells us that a bit of the song will remind the listener of Coltrane's Countdown. I would tend to agree. Some parts of the song do sound a bit like they might have been done by Coltrane.
Ballad For Andy begins with an interesting drum solo and then provides the listener with some really good soprano sax and guitar solos. The sax is long and lingering. It might remind you of a lost love lament.
Marilyn's Dilemma brings the pace back up. It is a fun song with nice tenor sax and drum solos. Greg also has a decent guitar solo in the song.
Hurry Up and Wait has a wonderful trombone solo.
I think that my favorite song on the album is What da Funk! The song is quite a bit like the title suggests, a funk laden tune. There are cool bass lines, fantastic sax and trombone mixed in with guitar and bass clarinet. In other words, a tough smorgasbord of hot jazz sounds.
Things slow down with a slow and easy love song called The End of A Love Affair.
Moderately paced, With Full Heart and Teary Eyes, might remind you of another one of those 60's movie scenes that I mentioned earlier.
The album ends with a really nicely done rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, People Will Say We're In Love.
Greg Chako is indeed a great jazz guitarist. With the music on this album, and the talent that supported his guitar playing on it, fans are sure to be delighted. And if you haven't had a chance to hear Greg Chako's music before, this is a great way to get introduced to it.
Paint A Picture, Tell A Story… is available at CD Baby, iTunes, Emusic and other online and digital outlets.
To learn more about Greg Chako, visit www.gregchako.com .

- Bruce Von Stiers


"Where We Find Ourselves"

Guitarist Chako and his band get into a flowing groove right from the start of their double album, powered by the rhythms from the leader’s guitar. He plays with clarity, generating a ringing tonality and churning out appealing improvisations. Plenty of space is given for the three horns in this tight sextet, with solos that excel and supplement the flowing current that Chako builds into each tune.

The program includes splashes of the music of Latin America, India, and other world cultures to complement the prevalent American format.
Instances of breakaway playing occur in very short spurts, and the tempo changes regularly: Belgrade may switch to tabla and join percussionist DeRose in supplying a spirited beat, or the pace may slow with a romantic ballad, or they may get into their typical swinging mood - a straightahead
mainstream adventure!

The set is performed by a talented ensemble and has a mellow, laid-back
demeanor showcasing Chako’s playing, writing, and arranging style. - - Cadence Magazine, New York, 2005


Discography

Released 8 CD`s to date:
1994 Everything I Love
1996 Sudden Impact
1998 Live at Raffles
2001 Integration
2002 Integration II
2006 Where We Find Ourselves
2006 Two`s Company, Three`s a Crowd
2007 Paint a Picture, Tell a Story
2008 Everybody`s Got a Name

Photos

Bio

In 2003, after finishing a successful, steady jazz gig in China with singer Dee Dee McNeil, pianist Jack Holland, and bassist Donald Jackson, American guitarist Greg Chako moved to Japan with his Japanese wife (of 3 years) to start a new life. However, shortly after arriving in Japan, he discovered his beloved wife had terminal cancer. The shocking, all-consuming experience that followed caused a 2-3 year playing and recording hiatus. However, after the death of his wife in 2004 at age 37, he began slowly to get back into his music.

In 2005/2006 he released 2 new CDs, the first a double CD containing all-original compositions called “Where We Find Ourselves”, dedicated to his late wife. Played by a tight, swinging horn ensemble, the fresh, varied arrangements are mostly mainstream, with splashes of Latin and World music, and even a couple vocal tracks showing off Chakos` own lyrics, which are as thoughtful and supremely lyrical as his improvising. Shortly thereafter, he released his 7th CD, “Two`s Company, Three`s a Crowd”, a series of swinging duets of guitar/piano and guitar/vocal covers, some live. Seeming content to stay and develop his performance contacts in and around the Tokyo area, Chako is now focused on promoting and extending his prolific composing and recording career, with two new CD releases planned for 2007/2008.

From 1994 up till his China gig in 2001, Greg Chako resided in the sunny, tropical island of Singapore, where he recorded 4 CDs (“Sudden Impact” in 1996, “Live at Raffles” in 1998, “Integration” in 2000, and “Integration II” in 2001), released 6 videos, a documentary movie, and appeared on TV and at major Jazz Festivals in the area. His first steady gig there began in March of 1994 with The Greg Chako Trio, featuring drummer Redd Holt and bassist Belinda Moody. Then he worked with NY singer Jean DuShon and bassist Vistor Gaskin, and finally in 1995, landed his dream gig which was to last for almost 7 years, leading his own trio at the famous Raffles Hotel.

While there, he also founded and ran as Managing Director, an entertainment company that organized jazz and other kinds of performances for public and private business entities, including Ministry of the Arts, World Gourmet Food Summit, American Association, Singapore Airlines, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Westin, The Oriental, US Navy, and many, many others. Chakos` Singapore stint culminated in a three month engagement with his quintet, co-led by soul-jazz singer Coco York and pianist Michael Stanton, and then finished in late 2002 with his 7-piece “Integration” bands` performance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Heineken Jazz Festival.

Born in Cincinnati Ohio in 1958, Greg took his first music lessons at the age of 9 on the accordion. However, guitar soon became the instrument of choice with Hendrix being an admired hero. After just one year of guitar lessons, Greg won 2nd place in the American Guild of Music contest, involving more than 1,000 contestants. The following year he also placed first in a local contest. Greg then attended Berklee College of Music for three years in 1976 on a partial scholarship. During the next few years he played with top artists like Junior Cook, Bill Hardman, Othello Molineaux, Johnny Lytle, Bobby Watson, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Raney & others. He also gained “hands-on” experience as a promoter and organizer, founding a non-profit Jazz Society and launching its inception with an outdoor jazz festival featuring Slide Hampton. His efforts to promote jazz won him a grant from the Massachusetts State Council of the Arts.

Although Greg Chako has always been a music and jazz lover, his performing career had been sporadic until he moved to Asia in 1992. At one point in the 1980`s, Greg even quit playing guitar for several years and became an industrial real estate broker in New York City. However, the lure of the guitar and the lack of artistic expression in a corporate world eventually led to Greg playing as a hobby again, which led to several hours of serious practice, and finally the move to writing very complex solo arrangements. The results were impressive! Unfortunately, this upward trend had to stop, in 1990 when Greg was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a repetitive motion disease affecting the wrist. The little bit of playing he did while fighting the disease, he did without a pick, using only his thumb to pluck the strings. He liked the warmer, percussive sound he got with his thumb, and from then on Greg adopted this style of playing, perfecting it over a long period of time.

In 1992, Greg moved to Hong Kong, and having controlled his carpal tunnel syndrome, resumed performing as a professional musician. Chako’s career blossomed, playing in Broadway musicals including West Side Story, a concert with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, performing in clubs with Jazz greats Curtis Fuller and Richie Cole, and recording his first CD "Everything I Love" in 1994, just b