Where We Find Ourselves
Chris Spector, Midwest Record Recap (Review on Where We Find Ourselves) Talk about a reality check on so many levels. What kind of balls does it take to record a double album of all original jazz in four days and make it sound like a classic Bluenote, World Pacific or Verve date? Someone must have grown up eating Rudy Van Gelder sessions for breakfast to absorb this kind of vibe. Chako straddles being familiar and unique in the same interval with such style that you're sure you've been here before but you know you haven't. This is simply a delightful heaping helping of cool jazz that moves and grooves and is sure to win you over before the first track is over. Why is this guy recording for his own label? You put the machine behind this cat and you could crash Amazon's servers. Norman Famous, The Dotted Line Greg Chako and his mighty 2-disc collection, Where We Find Ourselves. Like The Bias Project, it's a worthy, heartfelt effort with great arrangements and stellar playing. Beautifully packaged and dedicated to his late wife, it's hard to find fault with this. There is one heck of a lot of music here. Jim Santella, All About Jazz (Review on Where We Find Ourselves) With his sextet of jazz improvisers and program of original tunes, guitarist Greg Chako stretches out with a smooth session of aural impressions. Warmth, inner passion and heartfelt charm pervade his writing, which addresses matters of the heart. 'Love for Sale,' features tenor and trombone in an uptempo romp that has Chako moving incessantly with guitar splashes in rapid-fire motion. Fast and quick, but always seamless and fluid, the guitarist paints a peaceful landscape throughout this two-CD release that's recommended for it's smooth countenance and adherence to tradition. J Sin, Smother Magazine Review (Review of Where We Find Ourselves) Jazz guitarist Greg Chako apparently plays with only his thumb. He enlists a fine piano player in both Homei Matsumoto and Hiroshi Tanaka while Andrea Hopkins delivers a perfect vocal accompaniment. Recorded in Japan this year, 'Two's Company, Three's a Crowd' is an uplifting jazz centerpiece. J Sin, Smother Magazine (Review of Where We Find Ourselves) Smooth jazz rhythms are domineered by this fine guitar player named Greg Chako. His style is rhythmic and uplifting. Trippy atmospheres are swirled around his traditional jazz background. 'Where We Find Ourselves' is a compelling double disc album stocked with some truly enjoyable jazz pieces. George Carroll, Ejazz News (Review of Where We Find Ourselves) This is such a composite example of traditional & conventional mainstream bebop...And jazz guitarist Greg Chako holds sway with his extremely tight jazz sextet.......The group playing with a lyricism & dominance that is both powerful & original.... Chako's original music bringing out the best the ensemble has to proffer. Chako's style of composing certainly explores the boundaries of both composition & improvising, & his choice of players allows his music to be framed in it's most vital testimony. This group commands your attention, & will enliven your musical sensibilities indeed! 'We never know how, when or where inspiration might occur. Sometimes, something as simple as a casual comment during the course of an every day conversation might be used as the seed for a future creation. About 5 years ago guitarist Greg Chako released an excellent album entitled Integration II. The sax player with whom he was playing at the time complimented Greg on his approach to improvising on standards. Fast forward. Greg's new album release, 'Where We Find Ourselves', is a two-CD set that is composed of fifteen of his original compositions. Seven of these are based on standards. Among those songs that are based on the chord changes to standard tunes is 'April Wind', based on 'I'll Remember April'. Chako sounds relaxed and in charge at the same time-and delivers a swinging solo. The rhythm section drops out at some point, leaving Chako in an energetic dialogue with drummer Mark DeRose. The conversation is excellent with sensitive and energetic interplay occurring between the two-ala Elvin Jones and Coltrane. The album opens with 'Voyage Down' which Chako points out, is based on Steve Swallow's 'Eiderdown'. This bright and happy album opener is representative of the high quality ensemble playing and soloing that is prolific throughout the recording. Incidentally, the recording and mix are superior-and make listening to Chako's compelling performance all the more enjoyable. 'Takachan' is a beautiful ballad that Chako bases on Johnny Mandel's 'Emily'. 'Love Goes Fourth' is based on Cole Porter's 'Love for Sale'. Andy Bevan plays the elaborate eight note line that Chako composed, while Hallaran plays the original melody to 'Love for Sale' as a counter line. Chako delivers an eloquent solo, driving, in-the-pocket, and providing clear documentation about his maturity as an improvising jazz performer, steeped in the history of the music. 'It's Only You' is a spirited performance on the changes to 'It's You or No One'. There also are a number of compositions of Chako's that are thoroughly original, and not based on standards. Another aspect of this two CD set that is different from Chako's previous releases is his foray into composing songs with words. Chako is as much a thoughtful philosopher as he is a superbly lyrical and creative improvisor-and that emerges in his lyrics, and the descriptions he shares about his compositions. The first of the two, 'Creators of Life' addresses how powerful our thoughts are in impacting our lives. Our realities emerge from those. Vocalist Kaleb James performs the vocals on here. 'Where We Find Ourselves' is the other vocal composition-and the title of the album. It is much more than the title of the album too. We all find ourselves in situations that are beyond our planning. Some of us believe that there is a spirit or power and intelligence beyond our own that put this Universe in motion, and that 'writes all the speeches and directs all of our actions'. Chako appears to be one who understands this. Indeed, where Chako found himself in 2004 was in Japan, where he resides, and facing the emptiness of having lost his wife to cancer. He writes that the album 'Where We Find Ourselves' is dedicated to her memory. This independently-released two-CD set is outstanding-and evidence that some of the most enjoyable jazz is being released by artists themselves as opposed to big labels.' - Clive Griffin, Jazz Improv Magazine, Dec 2005 Adam Greenberg, All Music Guide (AMG) (Review of Where We Find Ourselves) Where We Find Ourselves pulls out the berets and bongos for a little more of a post-bop sound. The inclusion of a full band necessarily reduces the time that Chako spends being at the forefront, with other players taking turns at solos (trombonist Pat Hallaran blows a few nice ones) and the band as a whole turning some very nice contemporary melodic lines in tandem. The music is quietly understated, but with flights of fancy still built in. It's good, and it's heartfelt in both composition and performance. Worth a spin. Listening to your play, I had the feeling I was gently floating and drifting with tide in the middle of the wide open sea. The sound is both mellow and brilliant, toward which I feel drawn through and through. I hear so many words through the instruments in the CD. This is the feeling I've never had. I hear the air breathing through trees whispering lovely and the howling voices calling me from far away time and space. I wonder if your sound reads my mind, for it leads me to the place where I can feel happy. You play what belongs to you and none else. And while I listen to your music and find something fine, the music belongs to me or I belong to the music. I cannot write well what I want to tell because of my limited English. - From Kaoru Uchida, Japan I am listening to your CDs everyday. They are great!! I think it's a new sound. It is exciting and exotic, while some music is warm and gentle. Each member of the band gives a superb performance. I also could find various kinds of 'sound' in this CD. (A lot of percussion appears, too.) It is fresh for me, and will be 'my daily music' for the time being... - From Mihoko Wada, Japan 'Guitarist Chako and his band get into a flowing groove right from the start of their double album, powered by the rhythms from the leader's guitar. He plays with clarity, generating a ringing tonality and churning out appealing improvisations. Plenty of space is given for the three horns in this tight sextet, with solos that excel and supplement the flowing current that Chako builds into each tune. The program includes splashes of the music of Latin America, India, and other world cultures to complement the prevalent American format. Instances of breakaway playing occur in very short spurts, and the tempo changes regularly: Belgrade may switch to tabla and join percussionist DeRose in supplying a spirited beat, or the pace may slow with a romantic ballad, or they may get into their typical swinging mood - a straightahead mainstream adventure! The set is performed by a talented ensemble and has a mellow, laid-back demeanor showcasing Chako's playing, writing, and arranging style.' - Cadence Magazine, New York, 2005 'This tight, flowing double CD release is one great, swinging souvenir! The musicians were clearly primed to play, and their feel for the compositions flows into an understated, cool vibe on each and every cut. Especially nice is the balance between strings (guitar and bass), percussion (a wide range) and double horns (trombone and sax or flute or clarinet). Trading around front positions with neat precision, the group works together with ease and energy. The treatment of each piece has not only balance, but also intelligence and deep feeling. There's a lot of west coast jazz feeling in their hip flow and cool swing. On the right-to-the-point 'Voyage Down' and 'Wave of Love,' the first two tracks on disc one, the crisp up-tempo is clearly one that each member responds to fully. 'Winter Solstice,' though, changes the tempo and tone slightly, moving into a relaxed groove that ends with a cool percussion and didjeridu duet. The first disc moves further through a reworking of 'Love for Sale,' a heartfelt vocal number, followed by 'April Wind, a pretty melody with neat shifts of rhythm. The second disk gets off to a swinging start with 'It's Only You' and moves through samba, nimble chord changes and a few modal touches. 'Josephine' is a lovely, straight-ahead tune, which is followed by the very funky didjeridu and tabla-based number 'Dirge for Didge' that is one of the highlights, along with 'Josephine' of the second disc. Everyone gets time along the way for solos, with percussion on '7-Up' especially intricate and the guitar solo on 'Takachan' neatly and lyrically stated. 'Where We Find Ourselves' is clearly in a very good place indeed. ' - Michael Pronko, Jazznin' Magazine, Japan Oct/Nov 2005 'Easy, mellow and thoughtful: The new release 'Where We Find Ourselves' by jazz guitarist Greg Chako, is fresh and shows a lot of variety in cultivated jazz arrangements. Though some of the tunes on this 2-CD set are based on standards he enjoyed improvising on, this new album is more a work of individual compositions, expressing Chako's current state of mind... The result on one hand sounds like standard jazz, with friendly wind instrumental dialogues and soft choruses of guitar, and on the other hand, a mix of unusual, exotic sounds like that of the didgeridoo! The repertoire is wide, from swing to samba, to creative expressive sounds. You can also hear Kaleb James singing two vocal numbers with lyrics written by Greg Chako himself!' - Jan Lautenbach, Jazz Dimensions, Germany, 2006.