Two's Company Three's a Crowd
Jim Carlton, Just Jazz Guitar (Review of Two's Company Three's A Crowd) This CD, he features two of his favorites, both splendid talents, Homei Matsumoto and Hiroshi Tanaka. They're sophisticated and inventive soloists, and either would be an asset to any first-rate jazz group. And I'm sure Chako is thrilled to be working with such superb talent. But then, there's the issue of keeping a bass line moving, something no doubt endemic to American musicians. Chako is really earning his money because, when he's not soloing, he's not laying out. Sure, both pianists get a left hand line going, but it's without the authority in timbre or resonance that a bass line on a guitar produces, much less a bass fiddle. When Chako solos, his lines are original and imaginative, with a crisp attack, but mostly a big, warm tone. Any jazz guitar enthusiast should have Greg Chako on radar. He has a cool situation in the Far East where he's found some extraordinary piano players. But he's worthy of any jazz group anywhere and has something that's often elusive among guitarists: a style! More power to him. Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene (Review of Two's Company, Three's A Crowd) Although he was born in Cincinnati, Greg Chako has spent quite a few years living in Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore and more recently Japan. Otherwise he would be better known in the United States for he is a first-class straightahead jazz guitarist with an attractive sound and a swinging style. On Two's Company, Chako performs four duets with pianist Hiroshi Tanaka, five with pianist Homei Matsumoto and seven with Andrea Hopkins, a fine singer from Atlanta. The lack of a string bassist is not really felt for Chako, when he is not soloing and challenging the other musicians, often provides bass lines. Both Tanaka and Matsumoto are fine two-handed pianists so there is never a time when the music sounds incomplete. The 16 selections are all veteran standards with the highpoints including 'The Days Of Wine And Roses,' 'Almost Like Being In Love,' 'Autumn Leaves' and 'Take The 'A' Train.' The songs are well served by the musicians, the results sound fresh, relevant and lively. Lorelei Clarke, Jazzreview (Review of Two's Company, Three's A Crowd) On the whole, the album has a consistently high level of musicianship, yet is still easy listening. Listening to it two or three times will show more of the skill behind the duo's harmonious sound. Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide (AMG) (Review on Two's Company Three's A Crowd) The latest album from Greg Chako, a guitarist specializing in jazz standards from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, is a collection of duet performances with his comrades. These are essentially jazz trio pieces, but without the bass. Despite the absence of a bass, Chako's performance style lends itself to rhythmic accompaniment, using his thumb for the majority of the notes, a la Wes Montgomery. Playing in alternating combination with Chako's guitar are a pair of pianists, Homei Matsumoto and Hiroshi Tanaka, both of whom can accompany quite well. Michael P. Gladstone, All About Jazz (Review on Two's Company, Three's A Crowd) Two's Company, Three's A Crowd offers a rewarding experience for afficionados of the piano/guitar duet setting. Both of the pianists acquit themselves quite well, but the guitar is the primary instrument featured on most of these tracks. The theme of Henry Mancini's opening tune, "The Days of Wine and Roses," is, however, stated by Matsumoto. When Chako steps forward for his solo, he employs the Wes Montgomery octave-style approach in a most facile fashion. The album consists of a number of romantic and intimate ballads like Bruno Martino's "Estate" and Robinson/Burdge's "Portrait of Jenny," where the guitar weaves the lyrical melody with gently flowing single-line solos. Eric W. Saeger, Skope Magazine Chako's an American jazz guitarist who's spent a lot of time in Japan, and two of the natives with whom he hooked up there are pianists Homei Matsumoto and Hiroshi Tanaka, both of whom have little difficulty keeping pace with Chako. The tracks with Matsumoto - generally lighter and more romance-friendly - were recorded at a live Japanese club possessed of better acoustics than what many jazz bums get in the studio. Andrea Hopkins lends her Baptist soprano to seven tracks that move along breezily, most endearingly so on 'Almost Like Being In Love.' D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz (Review of Two's Company Three's a Crowd) This is straight ahead jazz, bebop performed in twos. Guitarist Chako pairs himself with pianists Hiroshi Tanaka and Homei Matsumoto or vocalist Andrea Hopkins. The five tracks with Matsumoto were recorded live in January 2006. The other eleven tracks were laid down in the studio. The music is excellent and fulfilling owing to the true talents of each of the musicians. The music is pleasing to listen to as background or for full engagement. 'I listened to ' Two's company, Three's a crowd'. This CD is also fantastic! From the first music, I was fascinated with the cool intro of the piano. The guitar and the piano are on an equal footing and each are moving energetic and lively, but don't collide, unite completely. I felt that strong especially in track #14. The guitar and the piano merge and make one magnificent world. I could see many stars... beautiful!!' - Mihoko Wada, Japan 'I've listened to your new CD. The guitar sounds like the piano, and the piano sounds like the guitar. Like two creeks joining into a river. I find myself to be there, a river joint, and I hear the sounds running through me, stirring my soul. Can you see what I want to tell?' - Kaoru Uchida, Japan This is a warm, intimate, swinging standards CD of only guitar/piano and guitar/vocal. Each number alternates between the 2 combinations, in a similar fashion to Cannonball Adderley's album with Nancy Wilson - first gt/pn, then gt/vc then gt/pn, etc... This tends to keep listeners attention and provides an easily listenable mix of sounds. It sounds surprisingly full and complete for a duo. Nothing sounds missing. Greg's guitar comping is sensitive and swinging, with just the right chords, and then he digs in with a swinging, walking bass at other times. The two chordal instruments compliment each other and blend amazingly well, and all solos show off award winning lines. Andrea Hopkins, the vocalist, sounds one minute like a tender child, innocently and gently caressing the lyrics, while a minute later, a strong, soulful voice belting out the song with mature feeling and power. There are 16 songs and over 75 minutes of music, so one is certainly getting their money's worth! All the vocals are great, but the highlight could very well be an interpretation of the Bread song 'If'. Instrumental highlights include the beautiful bossa 'Estate', given a jazz ballad treatment here, and for excitement, all the 'live' tracks recorded at a club in Japan, especially 'Autumn Leaves' and 'Take the 'A' Train'. Though Chako's original compositions are captivating, it is also nice to hear him in this new duo setting playing standards, a departure from his previous 3 releases. Another highly recommended CD from Chako, who continues to produce high quality, yet individually unique releases.