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Keep your eye on where you're going, but never forget where you came from! 

This post follows up the last two blogs of mine, in which I ponder and pontificate the merits of doing other peoples music as opposed to ones own, and the current state of the mass music market in America (specifically the USA, because it's totally DIFFERENT in countries like Japan, where Original music and Jazz in general is quite heralded by comparison). For better or for worse, I'm in the USA now, and my time in the Far East as a prolific composer and frequent performer of original music with stellar-quality bandmates (see some of my shows in Tokyo and Yokohama Japan to see and hear what I mean: is but a fond & cherished memory! 

Having said that, I'm quite happy to announce that my 17th album is a return to my "roots' of playing standards in a guitar-led trio. Finally, when someone who expresses an interest in hiring my jazz trio for a function event and asked what we sound like, I have an accurate answer! We sound just like this:

Because, with so many of past releases of mine featuring larger ensembles that no longer exist, or All-Original music scored for 3 horns, tabla and Afro-Cuban percussion, neither of which likely represents what one will hear if a Cincinnatian hires me to play a function event at the Kenwood Country Club, I can now inform all prospective local clients as to exactly what they can expect to hear if they hire the Greg Chako Trio in the Greater Cincinnati area! YAY! So, please pick up a physical copy from me or stream it where you normally do, and if you want that kind of music for your private party or function event CONTACT ME:

My musical efforts are always looking ahead, imagining in my mind where I want to be in the future. But this week, I am so exciting to get nostalgic about my origins as a jazz performer in Cincinnati, Ohio, with my upcoming gig Friday May 10th with an organ trio @The Northern Row Brewery in OTR:

When I was a youngster just starting out, I went to Sonny's Place on Sunday afternoons to “sit in” with Hammond B-3 organist, Sonny Miles. I recall being the only White boy there, often the youngest too, and the cliental was the after-Sunday-church crowd in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. It was AWESOME! 

The Organ Trio with guitar was extremely popular in those days, and historically, seems to be a MidWestern “thing”. Later on weekend evenings, I sat in with Jimmy McGary and his band featuring Bobby Scott on drums and Wayne Yeager on B-3 organ at the old Cory's on the corner of Vine and E. McMillan in OTR. That is where I first met Bobby and Wayne, both of whom became friends of mine. We often shared a stage together too. I played with Bobby and Jim Anderson for a hot minute in their group, Cohesion, and when I began booking jazz at Doc's Place in N. College Hill, I hired Wayne as part of the “house band” there. 


Unfortunately, Bobby Scott passed away in 2018, but thankfully organist Wayne Yeager is still among us! Wayne recorded with me on two recent albums made in Cincinnati, Friends, Old & New, and Life After 40

So, while my eyes are constantly looking ahead, I am also going down memory lane, so to speak, as after all these years of shared history on the local jazz scene, Wayne Yeager and I will come together this coming Fri. May 10th for a traditional guitar-organ trio not unlike the one we played in almost 40 years ago! I hope you'll join Wayne and I, with drummer Michael Meloy, this Friday for some traditional guitar-organ music - we bring over 200 years of experience to the stage - but what you'll hear is (I promise!) as fresh and new as Spring and fresh-cut flowers. You'll hear Blues, Standards, Bossa, & Chako Originals, or as I like to call it: The People's Music!

Again, here's the link: 

Greg Chako, Mon May 6, Blog #15 from “Up & Coming”

Cleveland, Rochester, Geneva NY peeps - The Greg Chako Trio is coming your way! 

I'm so excited to be coming to perform in the Greater Rochester Area of upstate New York where I lived for almost six years while attending a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) program at the famous Eastman School of Music 2011-2015. I lived on Grantham Rd. in East Irondequoit for the duration of my time there, moving to Cincinnati in 2017. 

Besides school, gigs, and teaching privately, I also worked as a delivery driver at the (also) famous Donuts Delite/Salvatore's Pizza. As I anticipate my return to that area, my head fills with so many memories of the friends I made and the experiences I had . . . as they say, time and distance makes the heart grow fonder!

I am traveling with my recording trio of Mason Daugherty-bass & Michael Meloy-drums. Mason and I recorded A Place for Bass - Chamber Jazz Duets” in 2023 to rave reviews by luminaries such as Rufus Reid, Dave Stryker, John Clayton, Rodney Jones, Ron McClure, Pete Bernstein and many others. “Life After 40” came out a little over a month ago, featuring former Miles Davis percussionist, Steve Thornton on all but one track, and pianist Wayne Yeager on 3 tracks. Both of those albums, like most of the ones preceding them, contain all Chako originals, and the mini-tour coming up will feature mostly the material from both those albums.

We start at Cleveland's Bop Stop for one night only Thurs Mar. 14th:

Fri/Sat night & Sunday Brunch (Mar. 15/16/17), we're at The Linden Social Club in Geneva, NY:

My wife and I are staying in East Irondequoit where we lived before relocating to Cincinnati, and my two bandmates will be staying nearby, also in Irondequoit. I'm looking forward to seeing some friends and I will be calling you if you don't call me first! In Cleveland, I'm keen to meet some friends and fans I've known for a while but never actually met in person. I am anticipating an exciting time and some great music too!

It was March when my wife and I moved to Cincinnati and I recall well that it was snowing in ROC! I checked the weather report today and so far it looks like we'll be snow-safe this trip. Can't wait to meet everyone and make the rounds!

This trio pictured above and below have already tracked a new album. Titled “Standard Roots,” it is my 17th album and unlike previous releases which featured all-originals, this newest one will be a return to the type of music I played at the outset of my career more than 30 years ago - it contains all first-takes of the kinds of songs from The Great American Songbook that we often play on local gigs today. We went into the studio and just played whatever came to mind. I'll have physical copies much sooner, but the official label release for World-Wide streaming will be in either May or June this year. Stay tuned . . . and hope to see you in person soon!

For those in Cincinnati, my next performance is this Friday Mar. 8, with my 2nd favorite trio in the land, details here: 

Greg Chako, Tue. Mar. 5th 2024, Blog #11 from “Up & Coming!”

Blog #7: From Student to Pro - the Learning Never Stops! 

My mother was a career teacher for the Princeton School District in the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Though I did teach guitar in my late teens for Howard Early Music, a chain of Cincinnati-based music stores, I never intended to teach for a living. But that changed in 2003 when I began teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) full-time for Berlitz Language School in Japan. In Japan from 2003 until 2009, when I returned to the USA for my Masters in Music degree, I taught over 5,000 English lessons and completed 80 hours of formal teacher-training. I experienced first-hand how I can learn from my students, and how rewarding it is to see them achieve fulfillment under my direction.

In 2020, when we ‘gig-workers’ lost most if not all of our employment due to Covid, my online teaching took off like a rocket! Student enrollments steadily increased and by 2022, I was teaching at The Oxford Music Academy, The Guitar Center, and at my home online and in-person. My students were telling me that they wanted more opportunity to play music with others, so I began a series of weekly ‘garage-band’ ensemble workshops. I provided all the materials and a rhythm-section, and my guitar students  jammed on any music they wanted, but with my professional guidance and critique on how to best function in an ensemble. 

I met vocalist Al West Jr. after he called in 2022 to say how much he liked an article I had published (see the article here): He began taking private lessons from me on piano and overall musicality. In February of 2023, I began a weekly vocal workshop on Wednesdays with Al in mind. Focusing this second weekly workshop around a singer was beneficial to my guitar students, because since the singer and not the guitarist was performing the ‘lead' role in the group, the guitar students had a great opportunity to hone their accompaniment skills.

Our humble beginnings in my garage over a year ago has evolved present-day in truly ideal fashion: the student is now also a professional collaborator! With my help as Executive Producer, Al West Jr. is soon releasing his first-ever album, titled “I Wish You Love.” We expect to have CDs within days, and the official world-wide streaming release date is Friday, April 19th, 2024. We will have a CD-release party on Thursday April 18th live at Cafe Vivace in Cincinnati. 
Al and I have been performing professionally since the middle of last year, in a duet-format (Guitar/Vocals,) and as a quartet (Al West Jr. & The Greg Chako Trio). Our next quartet show is in less than 2 weeks, at Cafe Vivace on February 22nd (details here:) 
Indeed, this is the best possible result for any student-teacher relationship. I couldn’t be happier for Al’s success, but of course, he has to be given all the credit for putting such serious work and dedication into his dream of becoming a skilled and well-informed jazz vocalist. To view the video for the upcoming album, go here:
Al and I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming shows in Cincinnati, where we hope you also intend to pick up a copy of the new CD and tell your fellow jazz fans and friends! 
I continue to accept new students, in-person or online. I love teaching almost as much as playing! Future blog posts will include some tutorials under a new blog category to be titled “Instructional & Inspirational Articles.” For details about Greg's lessons, please go to: 

Blog #3: Reuniting a 20 year friendship - from the Far East - to the Midwest! 

20 some years ago Brooks Giles was playing 6-nights a week with former Ramsey Lewis bassist Eldee Young's group at the Westin Singapore's Somersets Bar, while I was playing 6-nights a week leading my trio at The Bar & Billiard Room of Raffles Hotel. We were playing right across the street from one another and met for the first time then. We became friends and saw each other every now and then after his 3-month contract came to an end, when one of his tours would bring him through Singapore again or when I would come through someplace like Thailand where he held down a residency for a while. Even after we each left the Far East for home in America, we kept in touch intermittently by phone. When I returned to my hometown of Cincinnati in 2017 Brooks was in Frankfort KY taking care of his elderly parents. He gave me my first gig in the area at Jimmy Can't Dance in Louisville sometime shortly after I got here. We don't play together often, but I have played in his band in KY and he has played here with me at The Greenwhich or The Washington Platform, and Brooks did appear on my 2022 album, Friends, Old & New

Organist and pianist Wayne Yeager I have known even longer than Brooks, from when I booked jazz 4-nights a week at Doc's Place in N. College Hill in the mid-1980's. Wayne was also on my Friends, Old & New release. Drummer Isaiah Cook is a 'Young Lion' who I've had the pleasure of playing with a few times in the Cincinnati area, when I can get him(!) . . . when he isn't on tour with singer and violinist, Emmaline. Almost 250 years of experience will be on display this Friday Jan. 19th @The Jazz Spoon

Free off-street parking on-sight. Authentic Mexican Food. Besides Brook's awesome vocals, Blues & Jazz, we will also be playing selections from my album Friends, Old & New!