Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Burgess, Greg, pianist, vocalist, songwriter; b. Sunbury, PA, 22 September 1955. Burgess was raised in Selinsgrove, PA, and attended Pennsylvania State University and the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he earned a BA (1977) and MA (1982) respectively in English literature.
Although he was given formal piano lessons for the piano for a year when he was 7 years old, Burgess began playing the piano in earnest at the age of 15, when he taught himself blues and boogie woogie piano by listening to recordings and learning chord formations from a guitar chord chart. He took a year and half of classical piano lessons through the university at Penn State, and took another year of lessons with jazz pianist Arthur Goldstein.
Burgess began performing as a pianist and singer as a teenager (mostly with blues guitarist Artie Renkel), but began playing more extensively after college, playing solo and in various bands throughout Pennsylvania and New York State (in Binghamton he did a few gigs with composer-guitarist Eric Ross and in Rochester played with Augie Jr., later a street musician in New Orleans). In 1979 he met his future wife, Beverley Conrad, in New York City (where Burgess resided at the time). Burgess eventually moved with his wife to her hometown of Rochester, NY, and in the mid-eighties, he played intensively for several years as a sideman with Rochester-based bluesman Joe Beard (including a year and a half stint at a night club in the vicinity of the Eastman School of Music, where the students would come often to see the band.)
Burgess expanded his knowledge of the piano in the eighties by playing tunes from the repertoire of the classic blues singers (Bessie Smith, Edith Wilson, Billie Holliday) in a band, Mumbo Jumbo, with his wife on vocals (sometimes accompanied by woodwind player Joe Salzano, son of Rochester-based bandleader Joe Salzano, Sr.). In 1987, Burgess moved with his wife and young children back to his hometown of Selinsgrove, PA. In the nineties he continued performing as a soloist and in various bands (the Impromptu Blues Band, Artie the Cat and Friends, the Uncles of Funk, Cruel Four Days, and occasionally his own jazz trio), and for 12 and a half years he performed every Saturday night at the historical Penn's Tavern, accompanying his wife on fiddle on Americana and ethnic tunes and playing standards from the Great American Songbook. He has performed numerous times at the Billtown Blues Festival and for George Graham's Homegrown Music Series on WVIA-TV.
In 2001, Burgess teamed up with longtime, San-Francisco-resident, drummer Steve Mitchell, and eventually with bassist Andy Seal, and is currently the front man for that jazz trio, Burgess, Mitchell & Seal. The trio performs a wide variety of material, as evinced by their latest recording, which includes songs by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Vince Guaraldi, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as three compositions by Burgess.
Pull the Shade on the Morning (2006), Blues for your Stocking (2004), Brother Blues and Me (2003), with Mitchell and Seal; Ears to the Earth (2006), with Mitchell, Seal, and John Johnson; I Am Not Alone! (1999), solo; Tunes from the Family Parlor (199-), with Beverley Conrad; Dear John (1996), with Cruel Four Days.
Broadcasts: Radio broadcast on All That Jazz, WVIA-FM, produced by George Graham, with Mitchell and Seal (2005); Live TV broadcast on Homegrown Music Series, WVIA-FM, produced by George Graham, solo and with the Debbie Davies Blues Band (August 2002); Radio Broadcasts on Homegrown Music Series, WVIA-FM, produced by George Graham, solo (mid- and late 90's), with Beverley Conrad (late 90's), and with Cruel Four Days (mid-90's); Provided music, including composition "Sans Souci," for TV broadcast of the documentary "The People's Bridge," Channel 21, Harrisburg, PA (April 15, 1996); TV broadcast with Joe Beard and the Blue Union, unknown Rochester, NY, station (mid-80's).
Films: Starring role in full-length suspense drama All Is Normal, directed by Todd Beiber and Juliana Brafa.