Gregg Karukas solo piano - Serenata - CD preview pt.1
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Serenata - Piano impressions of Milton Nacimento, Clube da Esquina and Dori Caymmi
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Available Feb 12, 2021 everywhere.

"With his first solo piano album, Grammy winner Gregg Karukas dazzles, not with piano pyrotechnics, but with subtle nuance and a deep love for this music. A mix of original compositions along with piano impressions of Brazilian artists Milton Nacimento, Clube da Esquina and Dori Caymmi, Karukas clearly demonstrates that, in the right hands, great music (and great musicianship!) defies genres and categories to enrich the ears and hearts of anyone willing to take some time to listen. Serenata is sure to be one of the best and most honored albums of 2021 !    Kathy Parsons -  

A prolific, genre-crossing veteran of Smooth Jazz, Brazilian, New Age and R&B/Pop, Gregg looks back on his years touring with Brazilian artists Sergio Mendes, Dori Caymmi and Ricardo Silveira in the 1990's as some of his
favorite musical experiences. As producer, pianist, composer and arranger, Gregg won the Best New Age Grammy in 2013 (Echoes of Love), and has also worked with pianist David Lanz, arranging and producing two successful crossover CDs. As a founding member of the Los Angeles smooth jazz community, Gregg toured and contributed to many seminal projects (The Rippingtons, Dave Koz, Peter White, Boney James).

After a recent move, Gregg discovered a dusty box of live cassette recordings of shows in the 1990's with Dori and Ricardo Silveira and was curious to check out one particular tape marked "Dori - Le Cafe" with a star!...... Gregg says, "Those Dori shows at that tiny Los Angeles music room were legendary, with everyone from Michel LeGrand, Dave Grusin, Quincy Jones to Wayne Shorter in the audience. I played multiple keys, but Dori usually introduced me as: "My orchestra....". I had to buy a used cassette deck to play it, and it was one of our magical nights. I sat down at the piano and recalled many of his lush, melodic songs as best as I could and got very emotional, especially since I had also recently found the video of our wedding in 1992, where Dori sang “O Cantador” during the ceremony. That evening pulled me out of my comfort zone and set me on a surprising new adventure that I hope will bring some peace and joy to all who are suffering during this challenging time."

"Most people think of Brazilian music as highly rhythmic, based on samba, or carnival," Gregg says, "but there are so many other great qualities that encompass a world of influences; Portuguese folk ballads, American jazz, mountain rhythms, lots of acoustic guitars...Milton's soaring vocals are so distinctive. I love the more emotional, romantic melodies, and while I don't understand any of the Portuguese lyrics, these songs are very special to me". Listening constantly on the way to his gigs, Gregg found the lush melodies and harmonies of Milton and friends to be a 'sacred' respite; the perfect antidote to the involved, dynamic jazz fusion he was writing and playing. "I deliberately did not try to analyze or learn the songs at the piano, up until very recently that is......and so I was able to approach the music on “Serenata” with a fresh, unfiltered perspective. A few of the originals are late night, through-composed improvisations".

Looking back, Gregg had no idea he would eventually be recording and playing on the world's biggest stages with many of his Brazilian musical heroes, including Montreux Jazz with Caymmi, and multiple shows at the Hollywood Bowl with Ivan Lins, Oscar Castro Neves, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Toots Thielemans, Mendes and Caymmi.

Photos: Tony Novak Clifford (cover and Hawaii) Aric Thompson, Jay Molina, Richard Marks, Sherry Rayn Barnett.
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