09.07.1019-8 Records to release Greg Ward's Fitted Shards: South Side Story
I hope you've all had a great summer. My summer was unbelievable and this fall will certainly be even more amazing! Look out for my first CD as a leader, Greg Ward's Fitted Shards: South Side Story, which will be released on 19-8 Records on Sep. 28th. I've also started a blog called This Is My Life. You can read about the many exciting moments from this summer and detailed descriptions of things to come. Just check out the BLOG section for a link. Hope to see you all at some of our many shows in the next couple of months.
03.31.10Mentioned in Matt Wilson Interview
Another New York saxophonist, Adam Larson, and I, were mentioned in Matt Wilson's interview with Jazz Police concerning his future projects. Stay tuned!
03.29.10Back from the road
Hello everyone. I just got back from a short tour of France with Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things. We played three awesome shows in Brest, Nantes, and Paris. It's been a couple of months since I've been on tour so the short escape from NYC was welcomed. For two out of the three concerts, we were joined by our friend's, the Engines, who are another great band from Chicago that features Dave Rempis, Jeb Bishop, Nate McBride, and Tim Daisy. The best concert we played was at the Pannonica Jazz Club in Nantes, France. Both the Engines and People, Places, and Things played beautifully for an energetic and attentive audience. Besides the shows, I must say that the food we eat every time we pass through France is CRAZY AMAZING!! Just one of the highlights was a wonderful restaurant A La Biche Au Bois, which is near the Gare de Lyon. I highly recommend this place if you're passing through Paris. I'll be back there in December, which isn't soon enough.
It's good to be home though. I've got a lot of work to do in the next two weeks before I leave on the road for a month and a half. I'll be writing for the Occidental Brothers, Caleb Willitz, and for Fitted Shards and my new quartet, which is based in NYC. Stay tuned and enjoy your the beautiful weather as it approaches this spring. Talk with you soon!
02.09.10Back In NYC
I’m sitting in the United terminal at O’Hare in Chicago, IL, and our flight is delayed for two hours. This is something that’s normal for folks who travel a lot but still, it’s a nuisance. So, since I have some extra time on my hands, I thought I’d take this opportunity to write about the past few days.
After the 19-8 Records Music Festival in Toronto, I returned to Chicago to prepare for a duo concert with pianist, Anthony Molinaro. We performed at Mundelein Hall at Loyola University on Friday, Feb. 5. The music consisted of several of Anthony’s original compositions and two pieces by Gershwin. His original compositions are very beautiful and required me to work hard to understand them musically and technically. I believe all of the hard work and rehearsal paid off. The music came together very well. We have video and audio recordings of the concert. Hopefully, I’ll post some music very soon. This musical setting is really interesting to me. Anthony and I are already talking about putting together more music for future performances. Stay tuned!
Now, back to NYC to write some music. Talk with you all later.
02.03.10Live From Toronto!
I'm dropping you a line from Toronto, Canada, where I'm performing two nights with Anthony Molinaro's Quartet at the first 19-8 Records Jazz Festival. This five-day festival is taking place at The Rex Jazz Club. It's a really beautiful place. The band performed all of Anthony's original music very well and the audience was really receptive and energetic. Both nights of our performance are followed by the NYC group Rudder. They sounded amazing tonight. Check out the link to see some of the other groups that are performing this week.
This past weekend, the Occidental Brothers were busy promoting and performing for a benefit concert in Chicago. The concert helped raise money for students of Walter Payton College Prep. to take a trip to Ghana. The event was very well attended and we had a blast performing with Samba Mapangala. Here's what the Chicago Tribune had to say about it:
Occidental Brothers bring Africa to students
By Kevin McKeough, Special to the Tribune
February 2, 2010
To help raise money for Chicago high school students to travel to Ghana, the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International brought a bit of Ghana to them during the band's benefit concert at Lincoln Hall Sunday evening.
Composed of local jazz musicians, the Occidental Brothers revive the sounds of classic African pop to gorgeous, hip-swaying effect with the help of singer Samba Mapangala, a star in Africa in the '80s and '90s who now lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
Mapangala was on hand for Sunday's benefit show, which raised funds for an African trip planned for this spring by students and faculty members from Walter Payton College Prep. Most of the crowd consisted of students, teachers and parents, which gave the show a feel of a high school mixer, as the kids alternately danced and milled about in ever-changing clusters.
The band and the cause were well-paired: The Occidental Brothers' music draws in part on a Ghanaian style called highlife, and guitarist/band leader Nathaniel Braddock has traveled to the West African country to study music there (the band's previous singer and drummer also were native Ghanaians).
Vampire Weekend's pastiche of African music and collegiate pop may rule the charts, but the Occidental Brothers' learned, straightforward approach proved both musically richer and more danceable. Braddock drove the songs with sparkling, intricate patterns full of off-the-beat accents; Greg Ward played bright, propulsive saxophone fanfares; and bassist Joshua Ramos and drummer Makaya McCraven maintained loping, syncopated grooves.
The set list provided a primer on Afropop, as the band opened with Zimbabwean icon Thomas Mapfumo's "Nyarai," and later played Congolese guitar innovator Jean Bosco Mwenda's gorgeous instrumental ballad "Masanga."
Performing his own hits, such as "Malako Disco," Mapangala sang in a mix of Kenyan and Congolese languages, his light, lilting tenor rising into calls that carried like wind across a field. The music reached a heated crescendo on "Vunja Mifupa," as Mapangala unleashed a torrent of rapid-fire chants while Ward vamped and the rhythm section dug deep into the groove.
Only a few students will be making the Ghana trip, but while the Occidental Brothers played, far more were transported.
OBDBI also played an awesome dance show at University of Wisconsin in Madison on Saturday. An unexpected highlight from that night was the opening act, which was a drum-line that performed the folk music of Ghana. Their music was really beautiful!
On Saturday afternoon, I had the pleasure of being apart of a program that the New Millennium Orchestra put together at the Harris Theater called DJ Beethoven. This program was designed to introduce children to the symphony and to show them that the orchestra is everywhere. To close the concert, we performed a piece I wrote for the NMO, Adrenaline, which features a jazz band, a string orchestra, and a DJ. I look forward to many more collaborations like this.
There are a couple of new websites that I'd like to inform you all about. The Occidental Brothers have redesigned the website. Check us out at www.occidentalbrothers.com. Also, Jeff Greene's band, Blink, has a new website. You can find us at www.blinktheband.com. I'll be sure to put links to these sites in my "Links" section.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who came out to my first gig as a leader in NYC @ The Stone. I felt really good about how we performed and look forward to our upcoming performances. I'll post the show on YouTube. We have one coming up on Feb. 23rd @ Puppets in Brooklyn, NY(481 5th Avenue) @ 11PM. The band will feature Damion Reid(drums), Vicente Archer(bass), and David Bryant(piano). Come on out! Have a great week!
02.03.10The New Greg Ward Quartet on YouTube
02.03.10Another Greg Ward Quartet Clip
Just Close Your Eyes
01.19.10Chicago was TOO HOT this weekend!
I took a trip back to the CHI this past weekend to participate in the annual production of Too Hot To Handel, a gospel-jazz version of Handel's Messiah, which was put on at the Auditorium Theater. This is the 5th time I've played this show and I have to say that the music always amazes me! Even though I heard it many times before. I believe it's because of the craftmanship of the music. The music is so well written. Almost like you couldn't have a bad performance. I don't know. It's inspirational though. I want to write with this kind of skill. It also has to do with the caliber of the musicians involved in the performance. The finest musicians from Chicago and Detroit make up this 200 person orchestra and choir. Also, the vocal soloists are amazing. I look forward to hearing Rod Dixon and Alphreda Burke every year but was surprised to meet another young vocalist, Karen Marie Richardson. They all were amazing!
In the near future, Blink. will be recording a new album. We had a rehearsal to prepare for our upcoming show at the Whistler in Chicago. If you've heard our first recording, the Epidemic of Ideas, be prepared for something totally different. The band is really transforming! I'll keep you posted.
Finally, I'm back in NYC and will be preparing for my gig at the Stone this weekend, Jan. 22nd at 10 PM. Hope you all can make it out. The new quartet features Gerald Cleaver(drums), Vicente Archer(bass), and David Bryant(piano). I hope to see you there. I'll talk with you all very soon.
01.11.102010 Winter Jazz Festival in New York City
I had such a great time this weekend participating in and listening to the Winter Jazz Festival here in New York City. The festival took place in the Village at more than 6 venues. I was fortunate to be performing with 3 which were the Meta Quintet, Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things, and the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International featuring Samba Mapangala. We performed at the Bitter End, Kenny's Castaways, and Le Poisson Rouge to sold out audiences. Every performance was beautiful. The People, Places, and Things show was mentioned in the New York Times article that's attached to this update along with a photograph. There were so many amazing acts at this fest. that I found it hard to decide what to check out. A few of the acts that I did happen to see were Jenny Scheinman and Jason Moran, Ben Allison, Baptiste Trotignon, and the Chris Dave Trio. There are so many beautiful artists on this planet and it was nice to see a large handful of them here in NYC this weekend.
To promote our show at Le Poisson Rouge, the Occidental Brothers did recording for Seattle-based radio station KEXP. The interview and music will be broadcast tonight night on 90.3 FM KEXP and streamed on the internet @ kexp.org.
Finally, I headed over to the Bar Next Door to sit in with the Marcus Strickland Trio. This was amazing! His trio and his music sound beautiful! It was a pleasure to jam with such an incredible band! This is the best way to begin a year. Looking forward to what lies ahead. Talk with you soon.
01.06.10Happy New Year!
Another wonderful year has passed and I'm looking forward to all that will take place in 2010. My first record, South Side Story, will be coming out in the spring on 19-8 Records. I'll keep you posted as we come closer to a release date. My new quartet in New York will have it's debut show at The Stone coming up on Jan. 22nd @ 10PM. Also, one of my multidisciplinary pieces, Adrenaline, will be performed in Chicago at the Harris Theater on Jan. 30th. As a sideman, projects I have been working with for the past few years are remaining productive. Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things will release a third recording of the octet version of PPT featuring Ira Sullivan, Julian Priester, and Art Hoyle. Blink. will record a new record in the middle of February and Loose Assembly will release a live recording featuring guest artist Roscoe Mitchell. It's going to be a beautiful year full of performances, recordings, and of much growth! Talk with you later.
08.08.09An Intense Summer
This summer has been one of my busiest yet. It began with an Occidental Brothers' North American tour in June. Some of the highlights were the Vancouver Jazz Fest, the Montreal Jazz Fest, and the Mid-Summer Nights' Swing Fest at Lincoln Center. We had a lot of really great shows and thank everyone who came out to show their support.
To celebrate Fred Anderson's 80th Birthday, there will be a concert featuring the AACM Great Black Music Ensemble performing big-band arrangements of Fred's pieces. I have been asked to do one of the arrangements as well as George Lewis, Ed Wilkerson, Tomeka Reid, and Francis Wong. This should be amazing!
Blink. had 2 killer shows a last week and Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things did as well. PPT had it's CD release show at the Hide Out on Wednesday to a full house. Pick up the CD, "About Us". You will definitely enjoy it.
My band Fitted Shards is rehearsing for a few gigs coming up. On August 18th, we will be performing at Elastic @ 2830 N. Milwaukee, in Chicago, IL, @ 9 PM. Then we'll be performing at the Chicago Jazz Fest. on Sept. 5th at 12 PM, on the Jackson Stage. Don't miss these shows! Also, we've finished our record, South Side Story.
Sorry that it's been so long since I've updated this site but you'll understand why after you read this article! This past summer was crazy busy!! I LOVE IT THIS WAY!! Some highlight performances were:
Concert with The O'JAYS
Charles Heath Quartet at the South Shore Jazz Fest(check out the review at the showcase page)
Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble at Summer Dance
Occidental Brothers at Summer Dance
Greg Ward/Nori Tanaka Duet at the Hide Out
Ian Torres Big Band Debut at the Bad Dog Tavern
Hamid Drake in Montreal at the Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival 2007
There were so many more amazing concerts!!!
I've also been REALLY busy recording! I believe I've done more than 10 recordings this year! Watch out for records from:
Savath and Savalas
Broken Things:Swim To the River
Charles Rumback Project
Mike Reed's People, Places, and Things
2 projects with Phil Schurgar
Karl Seigfried record for Delmark
and many more!!
We Tree has been performing some!! We plan to add a vocalist to our project and to start working on a recording!! The Occidental Brothers have had a huge summer! Packing out clubs like Martyr's, Schubas, and the Empty Bottle!! We're also getting some great reviews that I'll post in the Showcase section! We're taking a break now to begin work on the full-length record! Keep your eyes open! If you haven't heard the group BLINK, you're really missing something special! This group features Dave Miller, Jeff Greene, and Quin Kirchner! We have at least one gig a month! Check us out at myspace.com/blinkchicago.
My writing projects are going well!! The ballet music for the Peoria Ballet Commission is done! I'm just tweaking stuff now! I also was invited to write a piece for the ICE FEST 2007!! This piece features Scott Hesse, Katinka Kleijn, and Ernie Adams along with myself! It's called "Infatuation With the Flame" and will be performed at the opening concert of ICE FEST 2007 at the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, IL. Don't miss it! This piece will also be performed at the Art Institute as a part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series and will be performed in New York as well!
For the future:
Going back to Paris with the Chicago 12 and will tour Spain and maybe Portugal with Pau Domenech! The ballet will be performed in March! Loose Assembly might go on tour in Europe!
As you can see, things have been very busy and I hope to keep things this way!! Keep stopping in to keep up with my schedule and try to come to some of the shows! Hope to see you all soon!
Once again, I've been busy with so much work that I haven't had anytime to write, which is a good problem to have if you are a full-time musician!!
My tour in Spain was a huge success!! I performed 7 concerts in and around Barcelona with several different rhythm sections and my good friend, Pau Domenech, on bass clarinet. The jazz scene in Barcelona really blew me away! So many young people digging jazz, packing into jam sessions before the band is even ready to play! There are many great players with unique voices in Barcelona!!
All of the performances were great but one of my best experiences happened on a trip to Valencia. Pau took me to the home of Spanish saxophonist Pericho Sambeat!! We had a jam session with som of the local musicians! Pericho is an amazing player! I recorded the session and will try to put some of the tracks up here on the website or myspace.
After my European travels, I had to hurry and finish my Peoria Ballet commission by April 1st. I'll pulled it off and have started to record each movement for rehearsal purposes! It's really exciting to see this project come together and I can't wait until opening night, March 1st, 2008. The piece is currently called "Wings" and will feature a quintet of musicians including Marcus Evans, Patrick Mulcahy, Darwin Noguerra, and Geof Bradfield.
This has been a crazy year for recording as well!! So many of the groups I'm in are going into the studio or putting out records that we've previously finished! Mike Reed's Loose Assembly put out the record "Last Year's Ghost" on the 482 Music record label!! Be sure to check this out! It's a great record and features musicians like Josh Abrams, Tomeka Reid, and Jason Adasiewicz. Another record that will be coming out is Broken Things, the 2nd project led by Bill MacKay that I've been involved with!! This is also a great record! You can hear a few samples at www.billmackay.com. There are many other projects coming out with records so I'll keep you posted!
A little over a month ago I was introduced to Carmel Raz, an amazing composer and violinist from Israel, while performing with Karl Seigfried! Ever since, we've been collaborating when she's in town and through the internet! Right now, we're working together in the TBD Improv. Orchestra and beginning to put together a world-music group of some sort! Watch out for upcoming projects with Carmel and I! You can check out some of our collaborations at www.myspace.com/gregwardmusic2.
Our band, We Tree, has been performing frequently in places like Martyr's and the Tonic Room! The music is getting better and better!! Check us out at www.wetreemusic.com. If you like groovin' and rockin' out, then be sure to catch the next We Tree show! Also, the Occidental Brothers' Dance Band International is gaining some serious momentum! Every show we play seems to be almost at capacity!! The band is getting tighter and the people are dancing more and more! We've got a lot of shows this summer!! I'd love to see you at a performance! Check the website: www.occidentalbrothers.com.
There's so much happening right now!! Please check back for more updates!
12.13.06IT'S BEEN TOO LONG!!!!
It's been so long since I've written anything and I promise not to let this happen again!! A lot has happened since last February!! Here's a brief synopsis: Chicago 12 in Italy, Gallery 37 Downtown Sound Gallery Composer's Series Participant, received commission from I.C.E.(sep. 06), Wings Ballet Commission is back online, set for April 2008, We Tree has been performing regularly, Occidental Brother's recorded and released a CD, also opened 2 nights for Andrew Bird, recorded a record with PREFUSE 73, going to perform with Hamid Drake at Sons D'Hiver in Paris, might tour Spain with Pau Domenech, I'm currently the assistant director of After School Matters' Jazz Harvest Program, and much, much more!! I promise to write a lot more!! Keep coming back for more updates, new sounds, and photos!! Also, check out my myspace page at www.myspace.com/gregwardmusic2.
02.27.06A VERY BUSY WINTER!!!
I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything but it has been a very busy winter!! Many of the groups that I'm in have been performing all over! Most recently I joined Angel Melendez and his 911 Mambo Orchestra in Traverse City, Michigan, for an engagement. The band sounded wonderful and I look forward to working with them much more!! The African band that I perform with, OBDI, gave a concert at the Charleston which almost caused a riot!! People were dancing like crazy and tearing newspapers to make confetti! My sextet has been performing more and gets more and more exciting every show!! Be sure to check us out sometime!!
I'll be travelling again very soon! I leave for Japan in the middle of March where I will be performing a couple of gigs with a good friend of mine and former band member, Ed Gerber! Also, the Chicago 12 is returning to Europe for the 2nd time this year. We will be performing in Rome in May!! I know that will be very exciting!!
Finally, I've just been asked to participate in this concert series in June where they want me to put together a new group to perform some new pieces!! I'm still thinking about the musicians I want to use. So far I've recruited Matt Ulery, Victor Garcia, and Leslie Beukleman! I'll keep you all posted as more develops!! I hope you are all well and that I see you at a performance very soon!
01.18.06Chicago 12 Perform at Sons d'Hiver Festival in Paris, France!!!
I just got back from Paris on Sunday and have been running around like a mad man to prepare for upcoming performances with many different groups! Like the headline says, the Chicago 12 performed in Paris on the 13th for a packed house!! Ernest Dawkins composed a wonderful piece for the festival which was inspired by the life of Fred Hampton! The concert was a success!!! We even managed to get the people dancing by the end of the night!! Paris is a wonderful place and I hope to spend some more time there so I can see the sights! All of my trips seem to move so fast that there's no time to get out and do the "tourist thang"!
Well, I'm glad to be home and I'm looking forward to the rest of this month's performances!! Every band has a distinct style, each one exciting in a different way! Be sure to check them out! I'll chat with you all later!
01.06.06The Greg Ward Sextet performs along with the Fred Anderson Quartet for the Velvet Lounge Relocation Benefit at the Jazz Showcase!!!
We're continuing our fundraising for the relocation of the Velvet Lounge this Monday at the Jazz Showcase!! Fred Anderson's quartet will play a set followed by the Greg Ward Sextet! This is just the first of 4 benefit concerts that will be taking place at the Jazz Showcase! I hope to see you all at these performances! There are few places like the Velvet Lounge anywhere in the world! It's so important that the Velvet remains open!! Admission is $10/$15. Tell as many people as you know and I'll see you there!!
01.01.06HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
It's 2006!! Another wonderful year of growth and learning has passed!! Let's all make this next year even better, no matter what it is that you do!! Focus and push harder! I hope everyone had a safe holiday season and got to spend time with their families. My New Year's Eve was spent with the Red Walls at the Navy Pier Rock and Roll Ball! We played a set along with many other bands! We had a great show and a great time!! Have a wonderful year and I hope to see you at some performances!!
12.21.05Chicago Creative Arts Online
Check out video of me performing live in various settings. There are many other wonderful performances of great musicians here too. Be sure to check it out!!
12.16.05Christmas Glory 2005!!!
Last weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of the Christmas Glory 2005 production, which will be airing on Christmas day at 12:00 PM on FOX 32 Chicago. The event featured performances by Brian McKnight, Darius Brooks, Al Jarreau, the Winans, Santita Jackson, and many more!!! This was an amazing experience! Be sure to check it out!!
12.01.05The launching of Greg Ward's official web site, GREGWARD.ORG!!
Welcome to my new web site! Here, you'll be able to stay up-to-date with what's happening with my music, as well as being able to contact me about booking gigs or receiving private saxophone instruction!