Listening Station
Looking Up CD
Sound Clips
print jazz interviewprinter friendly interview
Page 1 2 3 4

Gregg Karukas Interview Page 2

Smitty:  Yes, I noticed right away that you’ve got some great guitar players here.
GK:  Yes, and I was really lucky to grab Ricardo because he only comes up from Brazil once or twice a year.  I always hope I’ve got a song or two for him to play on, and it worked out that he played on three or so.  He’s usually on a few songs on every record. 
Smitty:  Yes, he’s a mainstay with you…that’s for sure.  So talk to me about one track that I found interesting…Corner Club, speaking of Ricardo.
GK:  Yes, that’s named after a CD called Club de Esquina, which is Milton Nascimento…kind of an all-star project with him and many other great song writer/singers from the 70’s in the whole emergence of the Brazilian Opera music, it’s called MPV style.  They were all influenced by the Beatles, a little bit of jazz…the traditional that came out of the 60’s, but with more of a song writer rock element through it as well.  All of those Milton Nascimento records are really some of my favorite music of all times.  So I had this nice little samba that I decided to call Corner Club dedicated to Milton, and it’s a song that just wrote itself quickly.  The piano part is exactly as I played it on the first or second take, and Ricardo did a fantastic solo on there.  It just came together quickly.
Smitty:  I’m looking at the CD liner…great design and layout.
GK:  Thanks…I worked pretty hard on that…collaboration with a graphic artist and a couple of photographers and myself.
Smitty:  Very nice.  So talk a little about your playing the electric piano, the Fender, the B3.  What’s your favorite of those?
GK:  It’s a toss up between the acoustic piano and the Rhodes.  I love the organ and mostly as a color instrument.  I wouldn’t consider myself a B3 player, but I just love the instrument.  But when I sit down at the piano, that’s when I write 80% of my songs.   I might have a little groove going and just work it out like that.  The songs that are more Latin and up-tempo, I usually work on those on the electric piano.  It just sort of works out that way.  It’s fantastic to have such a great pallet of sounds and get to decide for each song what the best instrument to use.  This CD is a lot of piano and I hope it comes out.  I tried really hard to keep it warm and phat sounding.
Smitty:  Well you accomplished that!  Definitely.  So this is your tenth album?
GK:  Yes, my tenth solo record.
Smitty:  Wow…ten is the charm!  But you’ve recorded with a lot of great players and traveled and collaborated in so many different ways.  What are some of your favorite collaborations?
GK:  It’s hard to single something out.
Smitty:  Yes, I know.
GK:  I can think of so many great recording sessions where there was really some magic there.  It’s usually a kind of session where there might be guys I worked with only a couple of times, but when you get in the studio, you say “man that was so cool, I’d like to work with you again.”  Like I’m thinking of sessions we did with Kirk Whalum when we worked on his record “For You”. That was a cool thing.  Ricky Peterson and I were playing keyboards and everybody playing live with Alex Al on bass and Little John Roberts. 
Smitty:  Oh Little John…is he a great player or what?
GK: Yes, so fluid.  And Paul Jackson. 
Smitty:  Yes, he’s a bad boy.
GK:  As far as really spending time together, I would have to say playing with Eric Marienthal and Boney (James) …I played with them for like five years.  When you do such a long period, it evolves over time.  But we started from the beginning.  In fact Boney played in my band for a few gigs before he got his Warner Brothers deal.  He was doing shows with me, and then he started exploding with his first Warner Brothers record, and then just seeing the whole progression of that and the magic that happened…his sound and his vibe.  With that particular band, he was mostly with the same band for a number of years.  A big group of really nice guys.  I was happy to be there playing music. 
Smitty:  You could feel that groove, no doubt.
GK:  And I’ve certainly played in some situations where it was mostly just guys getting together to do a gig and go onto the next gig, and that’s not really where I’m at so much, because when I’m playing with someone else, I really make it a point to be supportive to them.  When I’m working on my solo projects, I still really love playing with other people.  I don’t think I’ll ever be at a point where I say, “No I don’t want to do anybody else’s gigs.”  I’ll always be into doing it.  I just did a couple of gigs with Rick Braun and some more with him coming up.  And working with Larry Carlton back in 2000 was really cool.  He’s always been one of my heroes musically and to get the call was really cool.
Smitty:  I asked you that question because I wonder, and hopefully everyone does know, that you have quite a career.  You have mixed it up with the best and you continue to handle your own solo career.  Ten albums.  I know you mentioned a gap in between, but these have been quality records with some great hits and I anticipate a lot of great hits with this record as well.  Some very nice tunes.
GK:  Well thanks.  An interesting thing is to look back and think “Wow I’ve been doing this for a long time.” I started…well I was playing original music in high school, but playing in clubs where I was playing original music…we stared back in 1975 in Washington D.C.  That’s 30 years.  That’s pretty funky to think about that.
click on the arrow to continue to page 3...
Next Page