For a great example of bluesy jazz in an organ trio format reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino, look no further than Greg Skaff's CD Blues For Mr. T. Displaying a rhythmic assuredness, a strong affinity for funk and a boppish tendency of blowing at Pentium 4 speed with apparent ease, Skaff completed the CD in record time, opting for musical magic over sterile perfection. Hammond B-3 organist Mike Le Donne is the perfect 'partner in chops' for Skaff, and drummer Joe Farnsworth proves his 'worth as well, even lending a dynamic drum solo to McCoy Tyner's "Inception". Hearing an organ trio in the 21st century is initially a nostalgic experience, but with creative, talented players manning the instruments, impressions are quickly turned towards words and phrases such as "scorching", "clean, yet complex", "strong but nuanced" and "smokin'!" Highly recommended.
Greg only began learning guitar in his mid-teens, teaching himself to play classic rock, R&B, and, most significantly, the blues. Opportunities to hear jazz may have been limited in Wichita, Kansas where he grew up, but organ combos, like those led by Jack McDuff and Lou Donaldson, passed through, making a strong impression on the young guitarist. Perhaps Skaff 's most formative experience, however, came with a borrowed copy of George Benson's "It's Uptown". Overwhelmed by the creative possibilities of jazz guitar, Skaff began listening intensively, transcribing the work of other artists, teaching himself music theory, and perfecting his now seemingly effortless technique. Later, Greg spent five years with Stanley Turrentine's quintet, touring Europe, Japan, South America, and South Africa. Since that time, Skaff has served in the bands of vocalists Gloria Lynne, Ruth Brown, and Kevin Mahogany. He is also a long-time member of saxophonist Bobby Watson's group.
In 1991, Skaff received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to write and perform his own work. He is currently a member of Full House, a group co-led by Dave Hazeltine and Jim Rotondi that can be seen most Thursdays at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City.
Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services
Web site: www.gregskaff.net