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Greg Hatza is an American jazz organist born in 1948 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Hatza started on piano at age five, and switched to organ at age fifteen. He played professionally from age sixteen, working for four years at Lenny Moore's club. He recorded two full-length albums for Coral Records in the late 1960s with guitarist Eric Gale and drummer Grady Tate, then switched to electric keyboards in the 1970s as the organ's popularity waned. He returned to playing the organ in the 1990s after hearing Joey DeFrancesco play, and recorded again as a leader with his ensemble The Greg Hatza ORGANization.

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GREG HATZA The Wizardry Of Greg Hatza album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Wizardry Of Greg Hatza
Soul Jazz 1967
GREG HATZA Organized Jazz album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Organized Jazz
Soul Jazz 1969
GREG HATZA Just Another Gig album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Just Another Gig
Soul Jazz 1979
GREG HATZA Feelin' Free album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Feelin' Free
Soul Jazz 1983
GREG HATZA Organization album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Soul Jazz 1995
GREG HATZA In My Pocket album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In My Pocket
Soul Jazz 1996
GREG HATZA Snake Eyes album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Snake Eyes
Soul Jazz 1998
GREG HATZA To A New Place album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
To A New Place
Soul Jazz 2001
GREG HATZA Jazz in the Sanctuary album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz in the Sanctuary
Soul Jazz 2011
GREG HATZA The Greg Hatza ORGANization : Diggin up My Roots album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
The Greg Hatza ORGANization : Diggin up My Roots
Soul Jazz 2017

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GREG HATZA The Greg Hatza ORGANization : Diggin up My Roots

Album · 2017 · Soul Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
A native of Reading, Pennsylvania, Greg Hatza’s musical instincts came to him as early and as naturally as the ability to walk, around age four he began formal lessons. The Hammond B-3 became his life’s obsession as a teenager. Because there were no jazz organ instructors at the time, Greg was largely self-taught, picking up most of his insider knowledge from the organ players at jam sessions at a local club called the Grand Hotel. It was the Grand that Baltimore Colts football great and jazz fan Lenny Moore asked the teenager to perform at a club he was opening in Baltimore. Moore became Greg’s manager and Baltimore became Greg’s home. The organist played at the club for four years and was something of a young jazz lion himself, recording two albums for MCA subsidiary label Coral Records, The Wizardry of Greg Hatza and Organized Jazz.

In the late sixties, Baltimore was still an organ town and had its share of great players. It was here that Greg really got a chance to hone his jazz organ skills by playing with the best musicians in town. Lenny’s club was a great stopping point for national jazz artists who came to Baltimore to perform. It was here that Greg met his mentor Jimmy Smith and got to play with him. Smith later advised Greg on his soon to be recorded albums. He also met and got to play in jam sessions with such personalities as Kenny Burrell, Groove Holmes, Damita Joe, Philly Joe Jones, Roland Kirk, Les McCann, James Moody, and Sonny Stitt.

Greg Hatza’s formal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Composition from the Peabody Conservatory and a Master’s from Towson State University, where he subsequently taught jazz, piano composition, improvisation and music theory for many years. He also performed with the Towson Jazz Faculty Quartet in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Diggin’ Up My Roots, is Hatza’s Lucky 13 album, featuring a greasy groovy good time. Hatza and his crew really serve up a rollicking good-time sound and the nord C2D Organ is steaming hot. The first cut is “Baltimore Strut,” it seems a fine tribute to his roots in Organ jazz/blues. A swingin’, deeply groovin’ sound that instantly sets the tone of what is to come. Saxophonist, Peter Fraize gives an outstanding solo with full throttle lines and a round warm sound. Guitarist, Brian Kooken digs in with jazz/blues lines that are soulful yet delicious jazz lines all sewn up into a canvas that allows organist Hatza to wail and shout atop, with quick building lines and trills, it’s the best of blues and jazz rolled into one, and if your pulse hasn’t jump started by now; check it – as I guarantee your feet are already moving.

Another pleaser in the mix is “High Healed Sneakers,” a mid -tempo slinky groove written by Robert Higginbotham and made famous by Tommy Tucker in 1964, the group definitely kept the original essence of the tune, and its authenticity rings through. Again, Fraize rails off a high-flying solo, with Kooken using a highly-sophisticated jazz/blues vocabulary in his note choices.

I have always had an affinity for “Back at the Chicken Shack” and Hatza has learned his history well, a Jimmy Smith classic, Hatza lays it out soulfully and with absolute authenticity. This organist truly grew up through the ranks, he is dripping with soulful elongated lines and links the lines between jazz, blues and soul with rarity of execution. Smith is a hard act to follow, but Hatza certainly is no slouch, and you can tell, he has put the time in the trenches to pull off this tune.

Overall, Diggin’ Up My Roots is a worthwhile offering that should stay in the forefront of your mind long after you take a listen. Hatza has created a lasting sound, and his ensemble of compadres, add to the depth of the overall enjoyment. A highly enjoyable release, that features an exceedingly tight group sound.

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