Master Composers: Gregg Karukas Brings Lots of Groovy Soul
With a longtime love of the piano since he was six, Gregg Karukas has enjoyed quite a successful career, primarily dealing with commercial smooth jazz.
After spending five years dabbling in R&B and later as a studio musician in Washington, D.C., he moved to Los Angeles in 1983. He would become a major player in the pop-jazz genre with the likes of David Benoit, Richard Elliot, Grant Geissman, and Ronnie Laws, to name a few. Dave Koz impressed him early on with his early version of his specialty on the saxophone and by the mid-’80s, Gregg was an original member of the Rippingtons.
Between 1987 and 2009, he produced a dozen albums. This album from 2014 covers over 70 minutes and is excellent music to wind down the day (especially great listening for any college student that cannot sleep too easily at night, me being one of them back in the day–and yes, welcome to my newest fan in my former one-time Speech and Music Appreciation professor when I was in school. Hello and welcome, hope you enjoy reading my blogs).
Teaming up with Brazilian jazz royalty from Sergio Mendes, Dori Caymmi, and Ricardo Silveria–each song has just the right amount of rhythm not to be rushed and more importantly in this day and age–each track sounds just lively enough in case if you were hosting a party and just want your guests to kick off their shoes (or in case for the ladies who happen to be reading, their heels) and relax.
In fact, the only vocals you will hear is on Track 5, “Rio Drive”. A very effervescent tune, if there was one–I can easily compare it with Les Hommes’ spring break type tune on The Mood Is Modal (of which you can read in one of my past blogs, fyi). Another nice track that should be on your jazz playlist should be Track 9, “Secret Smile”–a very laid back and soothing mix of Vincent Ingala on sax and Michael O’Neill on guitar.
No wonder Gregg Karukas is more than just a talented musician–he also had the time to work also as a freelance producer, in addition to being featured as a sideman on albums by smooth jazz greats in Peter White, Boney James, and Craig Chaquico.
Hopefully, with the American firecracker holiday of Independence Day done for another year…it will be interesting to see what album I will review next.
Please check back next week, and tell your friends who might be interested in checking out the most relaxing music this side of the Equator.
Thirty (that’s 3-oh to you and me) other people have been convinced, so why not join in on the fun? See you all next week and may you all have pleasant dreams.