Chaquito was the most prominent alias of British easy listening arranger and conductor John Gregory. Born in London on October 12, 1928, Gregory was the son of bandleader Frank Gregori, whose dance combo was a mainstay at the city's popular Italian restaurant Quaglino's. After a brief stint as a violinist with his father's group, by the late '40s Gregory was performing on his own, eventually landing work as a staff arranger with Philips Records, where he toiled for the next two decades. Via collaborations with vocalists ranging from Cleo Laine to Nana Mouskouri, in 1960 Gregory was finally awarded the opportunity to make his own records. Credited to the Cascading Strings, these efforts were Philips' response to easy listening albums from the 101 Strings Orchestra and the Living Strings, but were far more impressive, particularly 1963's cult-classic Melodies of Japan, an imaginative reworking of the traditional folk music of the Far East. With the success of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Philips concurrently installed Gregory as Chaquito. Across the decade to follow, he cut a series of bold, dynamic Latin-inspired dates (among them The Great Chaquito Revolution, Latin Colours, and Spies and Dolls) aided by session aces including Don Lusher, Denis Lopez, and Dave Richmond. Only by the mid-'70s was Gregory regularly recording under his own name, producing a handful of surprisingly funky outings including A Man for All Seasons and The Detectives.
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