Greg Chako - Tokyo Live!

Mint 400/Raining

One of the chief highlights of my live performance experience in Japan was playing with Philadelphian-born drummer Gene Jackson. Gene and I hit it off from the very first downbeat, and to this day, he’s one of my favorite drummers to play with. I had been performing often with Japanese pianist Hiroshi Tanaka when I first met Gene. Hiroshi recorded on two of my albums, Everybody’s Got a Name and Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd. After I brought Gene to Hiroshi’s attention, the three of us began playing together as a core trio. As the only Japanese native of the trio, Hiroshi helped organize gigs and the Japanese sidemen. In 2008, we did two shows that were particularly memorable.

One was March 29th at Yokohama’s Bar Bar Bar, a wonderful jazz club where I was (gratefully) in rotation, and this performance was televised live for a TV show called, Yokohama Sounds. The other was one of my performances at Tokyo’s JZ Brat on June 19th. Both of these shows featured a very receptive audience and a stellar line-up of myself leading on guitar, Hiroshi Tanaka on piano, Gene Jackson on drums, and Canadian bassist Brent Nussey (one of the top bassists in Japan and formerly with Diana Krall) rounding out the quartet.

These performances were special because of the overall quality: the venues were great, the audience was great, and my music was brought to life by some of the best musicians I’ve ever had the opportunity to play with. The chemistry and mutual respect among us on stage is evident. I am gratified that both of these shows were captured on video and will be released on two albums. The first, scheduled for release in early 2023, is of the June ’08 show at JZ Brat and will be titled, Tokyo Live!

These live recordings capture me in my prime as a performance artist on the Japanese jazz scene and incidentally, are the first records I’ve ever made with the guitar, piano, bass & drums quartet format.