Greg Chako

Live at Raffles

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With each succeeding release, Greg Chako increases the number of players he has with him. His first release featured just a trio, his second, a trio plus horn and percussion. Now with his third album, his "friends" augment his trio by five. Moreover, as much as anything, this is a vocal album as bass player Billy Martinez sings on several cuts. The album captures live sessions from the bar and billiard room of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, one of the world's more famous watering holes, where Chako has been gigging steadily since 1995. The play list is a listener's delight, with a balanced mix of standard and jazz classics and newer and original material. Chako continues to offer an amalgamation of tempos with ballads, faster-paced beats favoring one form of Latin rhythms or another. All of this helps to ensure that one's attention to the music doesn't wane. "Dindi," which features Martinez on vocals, is done Brazilian style. Martinez is known locally as "Frank Sumatra." There's more of him on a ballad rendition of "Teach Me Tonight" and a swinging "It Had to Be You." The one satisfying constant is the Chako guitar with its warm, clean, rich sound on such cuts as "Day by Day." Another friend, Otrie Barrett, Jr.'s tenor comes into view on Freddie Hubbard's "Skydive," done here as a samba. Other visiting musical firemen, Mohd Noor, Nantha Kumar, and Robert Nalin, come into play frequently with their various percussive instruments when a Latin beat is called for. Perhaps not as entirely satisfying as the previous album, this session nonetheless does nothing to harm Chako's steady progress toward becoming one of the premier guitar players on the contemporary scene.

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