By 2002 after economic downturns and Sept. 11th, business
had fallen off in Singapore. Plus, I had been there for 7
years and had accomplished just about everything I could accomplish.
In 2001 Raffles International took over the Westin Hotels'
lease in Singapore. I continued to work for both companies
during the hand over. But some of the Westin management I
had been working for in Singapore had moved to Shanghai, China
to open a brand new 5-star Westin there. They asked me to
arrange a jazz band to perform in their new Niche Bar and
I accepted. In Sept. of 2002 I moved to Shanghai and we opened
that hotel to swinging sounds. Within months our band was
the "Talk of the Town" as one magazine put it. The Hotel intended
to extend us for a year until SARS came. Over one dreadful
weekend, the booming bar cliental diminished to nothing. Regretfully,
we were forced to move on. Here are some comments from that
...jazz at it's best: immediate, transcendent, and above
all indescribable... played with a virtuosity that is completely
new to Shanghai's music scene... the Westin's most telling
accomplishment has been installing musicians of international
stature in its Niche Bar ... a surprising rhythmic vitality...
swinging the song in a completely new fashion... something
remarkable..." - Voyage, Jan '03, 'Niche Players'
...A chilled atmosphere generated by soft lighting and
comfortable yet chic decor, means the New York Jazz Ensemble
can concentrate on getting the music perfect ...they pla things
that fit the room ...with talent like ace-on-the-bass Donald
Jackson, skillful pianist Jack Holland, engaging vocalist
Dee Dee McNeil, and guitar virtuoso band leader Greg Chako,
the music is of the highest possible quality... whether you
prefer to chat and feel the vibe, or sit eyes closed letting
the music carry you, it's a date that should be in every diary...
- Shanghai Star, Profile, Feb. 20-26th, 2003
...Greg and his group are second to none in China. They are
truly ambassadors to their profession coupled with their charismatic
approach for ensuring their guests receive the best of personalized
attention. Led by Greg, the group's interactive style and
intense passion for jazz are undeniably compelling and terrifically
rewarding. They are inviting testimonials for illuminating
and spreading the popularity of Western style jazz to the
borders of China while providing an oasis of relaxation..."
- a formal letter of compliment by repeat Niche guests represented
by G. Timothy Erwin, Vice President and General Manager, Crane
Pump Systems Inc. Jan. 29th, '03.
...a rare combination of crowd-pleasing jazz that also
feels original and vital... the format perfectly fits the
acoustics and vibe of the Niche Bar..." - Shanghai Talk, March
'03, 'Chako Checks In' about gregs' cd's: "...one of the best
jazz albums ever produced in Asia... his original compositions
go a long way to hitting that nirvanic goal of a natural merging
of Western and Asian music... - Shanghai Talk, March '03,
'Chako Checks In'
feedback to Greg by guests:
such a nice relaxed vibe in the room... it's more like a concert
or show, rather than the typical hotel lounge music..." -
jazz singer Alexia Gardner & family, Mar 1st.
" ...I think it's the best
jazz room in Shanghai..." - Marcus Benz, Alexia's husband
...you guys are very good and really professional... without
your band this bar would be little better than a waiting area,
and you play the perfect music for this place..." - German
businessman Feb. 25th
... nice bar, great music, good people, what more could you
ask for? & ...you guys sound better every time i come
back..." - Ken Southerland, of Modus Media International,
a repeat customer, 28th Feb
Mr. and Mrs.
Goran Anderson, Financial Controller, Alfa Laval China Ltd.
found the music great and the bar very comfortable. late Feb
Clippings: click on image for larger version