What? Another tribute band? 

Today's blog piggy-backs on the publication of my most recent article for Just Jazz Guitar, a marvelous online magazine of which I'm an author of instructional and inspirational articles (

In the past week or so, I've seen advertisements for performances in tribute of: Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Ella, Horace Silver and others. These particular shows cost more than double the cost of all the other shows happening regularly that are not necessarily playing the music of one particular dead artist. In my own hometown of Cincinnati in fact, I just noticed a couple shows featuring the music of Horace Silver. 

Now, I love me some Horace Silver . . . In fact, I'm an expert on his music! I arranged and performed four of his songs which appeared on my first CD in 1994. I sent copies to Horace and he replied that he dug what I did with them. I transcribed much of the material on some of his albums, such as The Stylings of Silver, and performed it live with my (Cincinnati) Doc's Place house band in the early 1980's. I attended Silver's funeral ceremony in NYC, sitting next to Louis Hayes and Benny Maupin, who I interviewed along with numerous other Silver sidemen for an academic research paper that I got an “A” grade on at Eastman. I did extensive research, read numerous books, analyzed much of his writing, and conducted as many interviews with his sidemen as I could. The bibliography alone is 3 pages. I can email anyone interested a PDF of my paper, or you can go to the “Academic” page of my website: and scroll down just a little and click on the hyperlink which looks like this: Horace Silver: A New Definition of Greatness 252 KB 

There are numerous examples of my own writing that are inspired by Silver, most notably I believe, is my original quintet song Smooth Ride, from my Integration II album. It's a song that I also performed as a big band arrangement for my final Doctoral recital at Eastman. That recital is the 10th video on the following video page link of my website, and it's track 7 (the final track) of the entire recital:

But as much as I obviously love Silver, why would I pay $20-25 cover charge to go see one of my former sidemen play the music of Horace Silver? If I want to hear the music of Miles, Blakey, Silver, Ella, or that of any other dead Master jazz artist, I prefer to hear the original versions on recordings or videos. Besides, I know that for a fact, NOBODY in this town or anywhere else plays like Horace Silver. I can guarantee that were I to go to such a concert, it'd be too many notes played, and the wrong ones to boot! Even if my assumption is wrong and they played Silver's compositions accurately and with authority, would it be as good as the original?

There's a marvelous man named Andrew White who passed away just a few years ago. A saxophonist and Coltrane scholar, who in his own words, possessed “various artistic gifts of excess,” he achieved the most remarkable feat of transcribing over 800 Coltrane solos. There was, then and now, nobody on the planet who could match his hands-on knowledge of Tranes' sax playing, yet . . .  How many Andrew White albums do you have? 

It seems to me, and is confirmed to me by industry leaders in the know who sometimes advise me, that were I to put together a Horace Silver show, that in and of itself, would guarantee me a higher level of success than what I have now. I personally know guitar-playing peers who were always good, but only after releasing an album of Thelonious Monk songs did the media begin to pay more attention to them. Isn't that what happened to Master player and composer Joe Henderson? After classic albums featuring his own wonderful writing: In ‘n Out; Inner Urge; Mode for Joe; The Kicker; Power to the People, Black Narcissus etc., it was the music of Billy Strayhorn (Lush Life), Miles (So Near So Far) and Jobim (Double Rainbow) that won him 3 Grammy’s and the most critical success of his life.

I love the music of Joe Henderson, Cedar Walton, Wes Montgomery, and Horace Silver, so I do see the appeal and and I feel the desire of doing tribute albums to artists I admire like them; but at the same time, I also realize that going on 66 years of age in June, and having nearly died of Sepsis a couple weeks ago, my time and energy is limited; there's still an infinite amount music in the cosmos that I want to tap into and channel through my own lens, in other words, there's plenty more music inside of me waiting to be composed. And as much as I wish to be part of a musical community that shares (socializes) and supports each other (comes to each others shows), I and all of us I presume, must use our time and money wisely . . . therefore I will not be attending your tribute show . . . 

Actually, of all the dead Master jazz musicians mentioned in this blog, Miles, Blakey, Henderson, Cedar & Silver, I'd bet money that as much as they'd appreciate the remembrance we pay them, what they'd want even more is to hear something NEW and ORIGINAL . . . what are we bringing to the table?

For the album cover pictured above, I borrowed 4 already existing covers for my 2007 release, Everybody's Got a Name, one from Wes, one from Herbie, one from Sam Jones, and one from Philly Jo Jones, then had our names and pictures inserted into the original designs. I hope you appreciate the humor and message of the title. I'll never forget Maestro Mulgrew Miller telling me in person, after hearing this album, “Your shit's . . . (long pause) . . . DIFFERENT!” Grew said I'd be more famous if I had recorded with him and some of his NY-based contemporaries - ha ha! Don't I know it! 

The reissue will be released this Friday April 12th at 12am but the cover has been redesigned:

Greg Chako, Mon Apr 8, Blog #14 from “What's on my Mind?”

My final word about GOD 

I received unsolicited private text messages complaining that I did not mention the word GOD in my last blog post which described my recent medical setback. It was a conscious choice on my part because I do not want to get into a heated debate about religion or politics. My relationship with GOD or my “HigherPower” is a private one which I am aware of each and every moment. I am eternally grateful for all the well-wishes I have received. They have helped me immensely and I am grateful for all the genuine concern and prayers for my well-being.  

For those of you who do not actually know me, I ask that if you don't have something nice and supportive to say to me, please don't say it . . . At least, not unsolicited in my private inbox. I am focusing on the gift of life I've had the pleasure to enjoy for a little longer than I might have thought one week ago lying in the hospital. 

Let me share with you some words of a very wise man which I totally can relate to and believe in, from Hazrat Inayat Khan:

“Music is called a divine or celestial art, not only because of its use in religion and devotion, and because it is in itself a universal religion, but because of its fineness in comparison with all other arts and sciences.”  

“All religions have taught that the origin of the whole of creation is sound”.  

“What art cannot express, poetry explains; what poetry cannot express, is expressed by music. Therefore to a thinker music in all ages will stand supreme as the highest expression of what is deepest in oneself...”;
“ the East... music has always been taken to be a part of religion...” 

“No part of the world, East or West, can really deny the divinity of music. In the first place, music is the language of the soul; and for two people of different nations or races to unite there is no better means than music. For music not only unites man to man, but man to God”.

I am a musician. My music speaks for itself. Learn it, do it, share it.

Greg Chako, Fri Mar 22nd, Blog #13 from “What's on my Mind?”

From touring Cleveland and upstate NY straight to the ER and a 9-day hospital bed 

I was so excited and prepared to play this past weekend . . . so many plans were made and there were so many people I looked forward to seeing during my recording trio's trip to Cleveland and upstate NY. But the universe had other plans for me.

Wed. night Mar 6th, one week prior to our scheduled departure from Cincinnati, just after I finished teaching for the evening, I suffered uncontrollable chills and went to bed early. I slept 14 hours and went to see my family doctor the very next day. She said I had bacteria in  my urine and prescribed an antibiotic pill. She didnt realize that the bacteria I had was resistant to any pilled medication. Sat. Mar. 9th I went to the ER, was admitted, and didn't leave until 9 days later, coming home last night Mon. Mar. 18th (the same day we were supposed to return from our tour!).

The UTI was a particular strain very difficult to treat. It could only be treated with one type of antibiotic and only by IV. It had infected my kidneys, causing acute renal failure. On the surface, it looked like I needed Dialysis. Fortunately for me, the kidney doctors weren't so quick to go that route. After looking very carefully over my medical records and consulting with an Infectious Disease specialist, the right antibiotic protocol was found; a couple days after beginning the medicine and re-hydrating me, the alarming kidney decline began to at first, level-off, before eventually improving back in the right direction and the kidneys began regaining functionality. As the kidneys improved, the antibiotics dose could be increased and my road to a full recovery began.

The night right after my admittance, I was at an all-time low. I didnt think I was going to make it. But the next morning, as I regained my appetite and began feeling better day by day, my optimism grew and I realized I was being given a new lease on life (likely the title of a new album now in the works). When the nurse took out my Catheter yesterday about 6 hours before my ultimate discharge, I felt like a “free man” after serving a life sentence. 

I am now home and have fully resumed my music teaching and playing schedule. I taught my instrumental workshop last night, have private lessons today and am teaching a vocal workshop; I have gigs on Fri Mar 22, Tue Mar 26, Fri Mar 29, and a private function Sat Mar 30. Check the “Live Performance” page of my website for details:

I dedicate my life to music; composing it; recording it; playing it; sharing it, and teaching it. It is my purpose; my gift; my lover, and my passion. I am renewing my vows! 

Greg Chako, Tue Mar 19th, Blog #12 from “What's on my Mind?”

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!”

Shanghai Swing, Threads, & the Money Man! 

My first gig in Shanghai got off to a scary start! I had purchased RT air tickets for all my band members and had an executed contract with the hotel, but I found out less than 48 hours before my flight that my bassist Tim Hauff had no intention of coming! He went off his psycho meds and was in an unstable mental state. I was literally at the Singapore airport waiting for my departure to Shanghai for the gig when I made a phone call to bassist Donald Jackson in Chicago to see if he could step in literally at the last minute for our 3-month contract. Donald said he could make the gig! I borded my plane and had to sort out the details after I got to Shanghai. After that near disaster, I never gave flight tickets to my guys unless it was at the airport waiting with instruments for departure. Apparently, you never really know who's literally crazy enough to bite the hand that feeds them! A couple week later while on the gig with Donald, I found out that Tim actually USED the ticket that I had paid for, had himself a free Shanghai vacation on me! He had enough sense not to show his despicable face on my gig, but I know he made all the rounds of the Shanghai jazz scene except my gig and word got back to me of his treachery from my fellow expat players in town.

Fortunately for me though, Donald Jackson was one of the best, baddest bassists on the entire planet! Unfortunatey, he and pianist Jack Holland have since died, but I'll never forget them!  Jack was introduced to me through Donald. They were both on The Treniers gig in LasVegas, where they backed up the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and the rest of the “Rat Pack”. Jack had 50 years of professional experience when I met him, and was a total sweetheart, he literally “tickled the ivories”. After my Shanghai gig was finished, Donald later returned to China, living and playing there right up until the time of his death a few years ago. 

After the first three months of our contract, I signed a nine-month extension which, if it hadn't been for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) shutting down everything in 2003, would have resulted in a one-year-long residency! We made a good impression in China. Here are some press reviews from our stint there:

Shanghai is fascinating. There's an unusual mixture of old and new. The Old City of Shanghai stands on the site of a relatively small settlement in ancient times, which began to develop in importance in the 12th and 13th century, but surrounding it now are brand-spanking new buildings and neighborhoods. 

Besides this unique mix of cutting-edge new + ancient-old culture, one thing that I noticed is that when you walk into a pharmacy there, you see a man with a white lab coat behind a long glass display case . . . you're sick, so he asks you, “Do you want Western medicine or Chinese medicine?” If you want Western, he may give you something like Penicillin or the same tablet that you might receive here; but if you say Chinese, he'll ask you some questions about your condition, grab a glass jar of roots from the display case, use a pestle and mortar to grind it up and give you instructions like, “add hot water and drink this before meals 3X a day for one week.” Neat! In case you were wondering, Penicillin is considered over-the-counter in China, and the guy in the white lab coat is a doctor. In some ways (health care?), the Chinese seem way ahead of us . . . Well, let's face it . . . as a culture they've had hundreds of years of historical head start!

There's a clothing market in Shanghai where you can buy either cloth or have clothing (like a suit or coat) made by hand in less than 2-3 days. The doormen greeting guests as they arrived at the Westin Bund Center where we were playing 6-nights a week wore long Cashmere overcoats, double-breasted with Chinese collars. Donald and I took pictures of them and brought them to the Cashmere stall at the clothing market. We had Cashmere coats made from the picture. I still have and use mine. I often get compliments on it when worn here. I did the same with a picture from a magazine of Tom Cruise wearing an unique-designed leather jacket. I took it to the leather stall at the same market and they copied it very well! The prices are unbelievably inexpensive - the most expensive thing I bought there was the Cashmere overcoat, worth at least $1,000.00, I think I paid around $200+ for it. The suits I had made there have lasted all these years. The clothes I had made in Shanghai are durable! I suggest that if you ever get a chance to travel to Shanghai, bring an empty suitcase with you and then fill it up with all new clothes that you buy there. No way you'll ever find a better deal anywhere on Earth. And it's a very quick turn-around, like I said, 2-3 days with a fitting.

The biggest clothing market in Shanghai is Qipu Lu Clothing Market. Also known as Cheap Lu, it's the closest visitors can get to a wholesale clothes market in Shanghai. 

There were many memorable and humorous experiences on this particular gig. For instance . . . I insisted on cash US dollars as payment. We made approximately US$2,400.00 per week. Our rooms were located on the very same floor as the General Manager of the hotel and those 5 rooms were the only rooms on that floor. We got a full accommodation package including all meals, laundry service, etc. We were paid once every two weeks. In order to get paid in US dollars, the “money man” had to be called in. Every two weeks I went down to the F&B Directors office, where he, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer), and I would wait for the “money man.” I kid you not! He showed up in a full length black trench coat and the type of hat you might imagine Humphery Bogart wearing in a mobster movie. He carried a brown paper bag filled with $4,800 US dollars. He'd turn the bag upside down and let all the bills land on the F&B Directors desk where it would be counted. Then I would leave that room with all of my pockets filled with cash (somewhat nerve-wracking to say the least!) and make my way upstairs to pay each individual musician one-at-a-time. 

I'll say that the Chinese people are so warm and wonderful. It would be a mistake to in any way to confuse the people with the government in China, or to be swayed by some of the negative China-bashing propaganda we might hear in the USA. The people are entrepreneurial, curious, humorous, well-informed (better than you might think!) and if you make a friend there, he/she is a friend for life! 

Living and playing in Asia as much I have has not done much at all to advance my professional jazz career in America. I find that, particularly here in Cincinnati, Ohio where I live, folks don't seem to care what I accomplished abroad - they're more interested in knowing what high school I went to - to say that's it's parochial here might be an understatement! But traveling is eye-opening. My life experiences abroad have made me a better person inside, where it counts, and I'll be forever grateful for it.

My band got onto local Shanghai TV once. Here's a copy of the 5-minute show. It's on my YouTube channel - please subscribe to my channel for free and peruse the many videos I have there - Jack Holland and Donald Jackson RIP Maestros!

Greg Chako Sat. Mar. 2nd, Blog #10 from “What's on My Mind?”

Singapore Swing & Filipino Parties 

My first highlight of 2023 occurred in January '23 when my wife and I returned to Singapore and the Philippines to visit her family there, and if that weren't already good enough, I was able to secure a two-nights in a row ticketed weekend jazz gig at The Jazz Loft. There I was reunited onstage with musicians I hadn't seen in person or played with for about 25 years, not since I lived there 1995-2003. The quartet that accompanied me in Singapore was Mei Sheum-piano, Christy Smith-bass, Greg Lyons-sax, and Benjamin Low on drums. I had recorded with each of them (except Ben) ‘back in the day’ on the following records: & So, to see those old friends and bandmates of mine after so long, and to perform with them for such an enthused full house audience was a dream come true! You can see our first set here: 


Visiting Asia after living for so long back in America was a (welcome) culture shock . . . Singapore is one of the cleanest and safest countries on Earth. There are exotic sights, both in Nature and architecture. The food is as diverse as the peoples, and its amazingly FRESH and available virtually 24/7. In that way, it's like NYC, the city that never sleeps! 

Pictured directly below is a familiar structure in Singapore. It has a casino on top in the shape of a ship, a hotel with rooftop “Infinity” pools, and it's surrounded by lush tropical gardens and much more interesting architecture. My wife is pictured in front:

Some friends here in the States seemed surprised that I was able to hook up with such good players there. But the diversity in Singapore is really across the board. I feel more of a real community vibe in Asia than I do here, and without a doubt in my mind, the people there have more social consciousness than we do in the USA. It's also notable that there are more venues for live jazz in tiny little Singapore than there are in my hometown of Cincinnati, and the gigs pay better there too! I can count on one hand the number of ticketed jazz performances I've played in Cincinnati, and I have never played two nights in a row with the same band the way I did in Singapore, much less to full houses. Some may be surprised at that, but as many great jazz artists have already said jazz, arguably America's greatest artistic contribution to the world, is often more popular outside the USA than it is in its birthplace!

With regard to cultural and life-style differences, I will relate a true, humorous story. I took a train and walked to my first night's gig, leisurely taking in the many sights. It was different not having to load up the car, drive and try to find an acceptable parking place. I was plenty early, so I stopped just in front of the club on a bustling alleyway for some Indonesian Satay and a local Tiger beer. The weather was in the high 70's Fahrenheit (in January).

After our 1st nights show was finished, I noticed that our bassist Christy had left his bass onstage. I was borrowing a guitar from a fellow Ohioan, Rick Smith, who has relocated to Singapore permanently. I didn't feel comfortable leaving all the gear there without checking first, so I asked our sax man Greg Lyons (who had managed the booking). He smiled and said: “Greg, did you forget where you are? This is Singapore!  you could leave your wallet onstage and the next night, it would be exactly where you left it, untouched by anyone” He was right. I walked of the club empty handed and met my wife in Chinatown near our hotel, where we walked the streets and ate late-night (after midnight) Chinese food. 

Now that's a prime example of the type of nightlife in Singapore that I miss dearly since returning to Cincinnati.

The second half of our trip was spent in my wife's hometown, Agoo, in La Union, Philippines. Not much jazz there, but I was impressed that the local markets open at 4am. Every morning we bought our food for the day there, fresh fish (see video below), meats, fruits, veggies, deserts, etc. Didn't eat anything out of a can or microwaved. Everything I ate and drank was fresh and locally sourced. Every Sunday people from the local neighborhood gather in the streets with brooms, sweeping and tidying up the block - nobody has to tell them to do it - it's simply that they take pride and care for their immediate environment. If you walk down the street in the early evening, you will invariably be enthusiastically invited into someone's house for refreshments, and if you're braver than I am, to sing karaoke. These are examples of the true neighborliness and social consciousness that I mentioned before. Please see these short video clips I took while there. #'s 1 & 2 are just 30-seconds, and #3 is 60 seconds. 

1) Agoo (my wife's hometown) fresh market w/live jumping fish: 

2) Delivery of fresh fish just outside the front door of my wife's family house in Agoo: 

3) A common backyard party at my wife's family home: Jay's brother keeps guard of the party-food just before guests come to the backyard:

To the right I'm seen hanging with the boys . . . the brown bottle in the forefront is Red Horse, an extra-strong lager made by the San Miguel brewing company . . . popular in the Philippines for its bold taste & high alcohol content. Jay's family knows to stock up on the Red Horse when I come to visit. That's usually what I drink when I'm there.



Red Horse is the perfect compliment to roasted pig, which is always a part of the menu . . . very crispy skin and the most moist meat . . . I'm about to dig in below. One afternoon we went to the local beach in Agoo, just a short drive from my wife's family house. We barbecued fish on the beach as the sun settled . . . My wife asked me if I wanted some fresh oysters, which are extremely common there. I told her I didn't like oysters. She said, “you've probably never had a really fresh one.” She insisted I at least try it. I never had such a delicious oyster before. It tasted like nothing I'd ever had.

Though I have surely been blessed by my various life experiences, particularly those that occurred abroad, none of them would have happened if I hadn't been willing to seize (and imagine) opportunities when they presented themselves, to travel and try new things with a child's curiosity, a lover's passion, and without fear. While I was living and working as a musician in Singapore, there was a film made about my life there, titled “An American Cat in the Lion City.” If you are at all interested in my life as a ‘Jazzman’ in Singapore, or just curious about Singapore, you may enjoy watching the film, located on the video page of my website: 

From that page, scroll down through the videos until you come to the one titled: “An American Cat in the Lion City, Guitarist Greg Chako in Singapore, HQ Full Version” The full version of the film is 46 minutes. Please tell me how you like it, ask me questions about Singapore, or share some of your own experiences abroad.

Greg Chako, Feb. 23rd 2024. Blog # 9 from “2023 Highlights”

Guitar Trio Reigns - A Return to my 'Standard Roots' - New Album Press - Final February Gigs. 

I played two nights in a row this weekend in a guitar-led trio with bass and drums. I and everyone there had a blast! When you're playing with musicians you like for a receptive audience, it's so much fun, and not ‘work’ at all. Playing jobs like that is my favorite form of therapy!

The G/B/D trio is how I became a professional, it's my ‘roots’. That's the format I started working with in 1995, when I began playing 6-nights a week for literally year after year after year! In the beginning, I played all covers. But, as I became more experienced composing, and later recording my own songs and, as I met a variety of horn players and percussionists, I began moving away from the traditional G/B/D trio format. The varied and vibrant musical community, and the exotic, locale environment of Singapore where I lived then inspired new sounds I began hearing in my head, and I needed more instruments and larger ensembles in order to flesh those ideas out. My albums, Integration, Where We Find Ourselves, and Paint a Picture, Tell a Story, featured larger ensembles and all-original music scored with unique instrumentation.

Having re-located to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio in 2017, I no longer live in a tropical paradise with such an open and culturally-diverse musical community as Singapore, nor since I returned to the States have I enjoyed the marvelous opportunity to work 6-nights a week with the same hand-picked players night after night over a period of years. And obviously, since I'm not working as much as I used to, I can't afford to make the records here that I did when I was living and working abroad in Singapore and Japan, even if I could find the players.

But G/B/D trio gigs like the ones I had this weekend are such a joy! My love for the format is awakened. Even though I treasure my own song-writing above all else, I have never tired of playing the standards. Songs from The Great American Songbook (GAS) are still popular, and given the writing quality of composers such as Porter, Arlin, Hammerstein, etc., there is always ample opportunity to flex ones' improv and arranging chops on the GAS repertoire. This weekend, we got and fulfilled requests from customers asking for: Any Luiz Bonfa, Mingus, or Sinatra; Autumn Leaves, Green Dolphin Street, and Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most. It's not called The Great American Songbook for nothing! These songs are masterful, at-once fun & popular, and playing them while leading a guitar trio with (the right) bassist and drummer is beautiful!

My recording trio of Michael Meloy on drums and Mason Daugherty on bass have finished tracking my 17th album. After recording so many albums featuring my own compositions, this new one is a return to the type of music I played at the outset of my career more than 25 years ago, and it'll include some of the songs that we often play locally, like on the gigs I played this weekend. The new album will feature all covers, alternating in Swing and Latin feels. True to my own history, as well as to the material covered on the record, it's going to be titled: Standard Roots, and I expect it'll be released this summer by Mint400 Records and Raining Music.

We'll be mixing and mastering Standard Roots in just a week from now, but meanwhile, we just received more positive critical acclaim for my last album, released just a month and a half ago (with the same trio), Life After 40 The brand new review can be read here:

I'm also excited to have 6 new gigs in the remaining days of Feb. 2024. Two are private and the other four are open to the public. The upcoming gigs start this week and feature a wide variety of formats (trio to sextet) and styles (Blues/Latin/Vocal). Find out where I'm playing and who I'm playing with here: and please come to one or more of the shows and say hello! I guarantee we'll be having a BLAST!

I hope you enjoy my blog posts - I love doing it! Please leave a comment and/or share it with friends.

Greg Chako, Sunday Feb. 18th, 2024. Blog #8 from “What's on My Mind?”


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 #6 - Singapore Integration 


Living and playing music nightly for years in the tropical island city/state/country of Singapore was a life-changing experience on so many levels, personally and professionally. It permanently molded my current world-view and played a huge part in my maturity as a man and as a working musician. 

On a personal level, I got divorced from a 14 year marriage; fell in love with the girl next door; got my heart broken and sought therapy to mend my wounds; began a long and deep inner quest for peace and purpose; resumed in earnest a life-long search for knowledge of Asian culture and philosophy; remarried a Japanese woman; bought the best dog in the world, the late JoJo, Golden Retriever; developed a far keener sense of self-identity and acceptance of others; learned to scuba-dive (over 200 dives in 6 countries and 2 continents); and greatly broadened my love and appreciation for all things Asian!

On a professional level, I obtained my 1st 6-night a week jazz gig; I incorporated my entertainment company for the 1st time; I played and often led as much as 500 gigs a year for consecutive years; I recorded original music for the 1st time, starting a successful and prolific trend of composing, arranging, and recording; I performed in front of hundreds of people and more at Jazz festivals; I made more income as a musician than I have ever in my 65-year life to-date; I kept up to 50 different musicians of all genres working and getting paid regularly; I hired my 1st publicist; I played on national TV; I took my show on-the-road to different countries; I established myself as a first-rate bandleader and event manager, and became known on a first-name basis to corporate-level V.I.P's.

I think of Singapore as a ‘melting pot’ in the same way that New York City is. It's the melting pot of Asia because of its huge diversity of peoples, food, and culture, unlike any other Asian city. Like NYC, it's a city that never sleeps and it's a picturesque walking city. While it's not the center of the international jazz world the way NYC might be, there are more jazz clubs in tiny, little Singapore than there are in my hometown of Cincinnati, a medium size American city. It's the only place in the world besides Rio de Janeiro with a tropical rain forest within city limits. I have lived in some of the best cities on Earth: New York City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo . . . but for exceptional and overall quality of life, there is no place better, in my opinion, than Singapore!

Cooperating and collaborating with the musicians living on this exotic sub-tropical island was always exciting and enriching. My Integration band featured players who identified culturally as Chinese, Filipino, EuroAsian, British, African-American, Australian, Malaysian & Indian, an impressive swathe of Singapore's melting pot!

Perhaps the crown jewel of my time in Singapore can best be exemplified musically by what was originally a 2-CD set called Integration & Integration II, recorded in 2000 and re-issued by Mint400 Records and Raining Music in April of 2022 as one album titled “Integration.” As I explained in the liner notes of the original Integration CD, 

“I think of ”Integration" in terms of the Self; the awareness and reconciliation of the four aspects of our being: spirit, intellect, emotion, & body. This CD represents the integration I have achieved within myself during the past few years. On another level our band, comprised of individuals from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, is integrated by the music which draws us together. I believe it is unity of people and integration of Self, which is the overriding theme of the new millennium. Greg Chako - June 2000"

As I read those words above, written almost a quarter of a century ago, I feel in my heart the immediate and timely nature of them. When I listen to the 130+ minutes of music presented on Integration, the words I wrote ring true, and the music sounds as fresh and remarkably contemporary as ever. I believe the reviewers got it right: 

"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 outstanding. 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

"His guitar shines and he creates a new style, breathing exotic jazz-ethno music full of spirit and solid musical foundation" - Jazz Dimensions, Germany

"With a vibrant recorded presence, this is HUGELY enjoyable stuff!" - Cadence, New York

"...This is music that transcends geographic boundaries and cultures, and communicates the happiness and friendship that all music should provide... well-crafted, harmonically strong, with catchy, memorable melodies... Chakos' tone and phrasing are exceptional!" - Professor Vince Lewis, for Just Jazz Guitar, USA

"...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... don't hesitate in seeking out this essential jazz experience." - Keith 'MuzikMan' Hannaleck, JazzReviews

"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

"Chako, the composer, takes his inspiration from the rich Blue Note lode. Echoes of Shorter, Hancock,and Dorham reverberate through these tunes, which all sound like they could have found a home in the Jazz Messengers' book."Cadence Magazine, USA

"A blend of musicians and music of different cultures. His jazzy playing is relaxed and confident. Most of the upbeat tunes share a groove that will make your head bounce... solid and entertaining!” - Jazz Newsletter O's Place, USA 

I hope you will check out this music for yourself, and/or leave a comment about living abroad, playing abroad, or ask me questions about any of the aforementioned, yours truly, Greg Chako

Blog #5: A Place for Bass 

For the latter half of my 40-year career as a professional guitarist and bandleader, I have considered myself more of a composer than merely as a player. I have recorded over 70 original compositions, many of them for small ensemble multi-horn & percussion formats. My formal music education, culminating with a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) program at The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, greatly informed my compositional skill - if I was a good writer before attending college - I am certainly a better one since! The featured album herein is a good example of how far I've come as a composer.

During the outset of Covid in 2020, I spent many solitary hours at home with my guitar. I wrote and arranged music for specific formats such as: Solo classical guitar arrangements of traditional Xmas songs; A program of 2-guitar + rhythm section arrangements inspired by Great American Songbook standards titled, “Swingin' Axes” debuted here:

But the project that I am most proud of which came out of Covid, so to speak, was a jazz-classical fusion duet of upright bass and guitar. My recordings up to that point in time included one duet album (Two's Company, Three's a Crowd alternating pairing the guitar with a pianist and a vocalist, but I had never recorded a guitar-bass duet, nor had I ever thought of composing something specifically for that format . . . until then. 

Guitar-bass duos are the “go-to” format for local gigs, because with a good bassist playing time, I feel I can play anything and everything; with the support of a walking bass line I am free to solo and syncopate because the bass line provides the necessary steady rhythmic backdrop. The two acoustic instruments compliment each other sonically, and are usually softer and less boomy in some rooms than electric instruments like keyboards. Practically speaking, they do not take up too much floor space in playing venues. Duos are relatively inexpensive and offer the most ‘bang-for-the-buck’, in my opinion, for venue owners wanting quality ambient music.

Given all the benefits of the guitar-bass duo just outlined, I determined that it was well worth my time and effort to write original music for this format. But I wanted to make it entirely unique, something never done before. After all, there were already famous guitar-bass recordings out there, made by better and far more famous players than me, such as those made by Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, & Joe Pass. 

I believe it was my original writing that sets this album apart from all others. I utilized somewhat of a “through-composed” writing style, and I deliberately put the bass either ‘"on-top," playing the lead melody lines, or on ’equal-footing' with the guitar. Rather than one of us ‘backing-up’ the other, we are both “. . . attached at the hip capturing the essence of each track . . . ” as Master bassist Rufus Reid said in his review of the album. I sent the album to every guitarist and bassist that I knew and respected, and was truly over-whelmed by the positive responses I got. There was not even one ambivalent reaction. All were enthusiastic. Among many others who sent their praise and appreciation for the music contained on this album were: Dave Stryker, Ron McClure, Jimmy Bruno, Rufus Reid, Pete Bernstein, John Clayton, Ben Monder, & Rodney Jones! I have included the official one-sheet for the release below for your perusal. 

As heart-warming it was to be officially endorsed and recognized by those ‘monster’ pros and heros of mine, perhaps the biggest compliment I got on this album was from an informed personal friend who is extremely well acquainted with jazz writ-large, including all the most famous guitar-bass duo albums ever recorded. He said simply, “It's the best guitar-bass album that I have ever heard - it's my favorite!

Unfortunately, duo records are of far less popular to the jazz media at large and to fans in general, than larger ensembles with horns and piano are. Though master players who heard this, loved it, and sent me personal notes of appreciation, the album hasn't garnered the broad-based critical acclaim that I most desire and dream of. Since I have a sub-header called “2023 Highlights” in this new blog series of mine, I had to include this ASAP, because this album was not only a highlight of the year 2023, but also a career highlight of mine. I hope the post serves to inform and encourage some more people to listen and learn about this album that is so special to me. I'm seeking new listeners - please write or comment.

Available from me directly, or:

Greg’s ability to arrange events and ‘all the trimmings’ at the drop of a hat, makes him reliable, value for money, and above all – a good mate!”

— Dean Winter, The Oriental Singapore

a total orchestra, the complete package, I LOVE his arrangements!”

— Gene Bertoncini , World-renowned guitarist

Emotionally rewarding and clearly developed. Greg’s tunes are melodic and richly complex, with intelligent and sensitive performances . . . He’s World-Class!”

— Joseph Taylor, Soundstage

An American Cat in the Lion City (short)

The documentary film An American Cat in the Lion City is a short gaze, a palimpsest, into the life and work of the American jazz guitarist, Greg Chako. In the film we experience swinging acoustic jazz of a very high calibre indeed, the jazz that Greg and his various bands have played in Asia for over six years. This short version of the film was expanded to a full length movie of the same name a year later.