Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Chako, Greg (Gregory Thomas Chapopoulo)

Chako, Greg [Gregory Thomas Chapopoulo], guitar; b. Hamilton, Ohio, 12 June 1958. Hamilton, Ohio. His grandfather was a Greek from the island of Corfu, named Paraskevas. But he was living in Istanbul, Turkey and when the Turks wanted to draft him in their army he  borrowed the name of a cousin, Chapopoulo, in order to flee the country. When Greg's mother re-married he used the name of his stepfather, Jennings, while in high school. Then, his first wife's family were Chinese living in Indonesia; their Chinese name was Khouw, and their Indonesian name was Komala. When they married they combined the first syllables of their last names, creating Chako. He grew up in Cincinnati Ohio. His father was Thomas Andrew Chapopoulo (born New York, died 2001 in Greece; his mother is Shirley Janney born in Cincinnati Ohio, still living there under the name Shirley Hart.

His first music lessons were on accordian when he was 9 yrs. old. He began guitar lessons in 1968 at Hoffman Music Studios in Hamilton, Ohio, under Helen Hoffman. In 1969, he won 2nd place in the American Guild of Music Competition at the age of 11. In the following year he came in first in a local music contest. Studied privately with guitarist Herb Rogers, in the late 60's early 70's. studied at Berklee College of Music with a variety of private teachers between 1976-1979. Then he moved to New York City, where his primary teacher was pianist Dave Frank. He also did classical studies there under Edgar Dana and Pat O'Brien, and had a few lessons at various times with John Scofield, Cal Collins, Mick Goodrick, John Damian. He also developed skill as a chef, and when he married in 1982 and moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where he wife was going to school, he became Assistant Chef at the Lord Jeffrey Inn, while playing jazz there two nights a week. He also studied
Advanced Jazz Improvisation at Hampshire College under Ray Copeland and Archie Shepp. While there, he was also Founder and past president of the Pioneer Valley Jazz Society & a Grant recipient from the Massachusetts Council of the Arts, and was teaching assistant for Billy Taylor's workshops, and brought in jazz stars to the Lord Jeffrey Inn.
When his wife finished her Masters degree in 1984, they moved to Cincinnati, where he began teaching guitar at a music school. Eventually he got a steady gig as resident bandleader and booking agent at a club called Doc's Place, where he booked and played with some Herb Ellis, Jimmy Raney, Rusty Bryant, Junior Cook, Lanny Morgan, Bobby Watson, Jim Snidero, Mike Wolff, and Othello Molineaux.

They moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1986, but he quit playing music in public 1987-1992 to work selling and leasing industrial real estate for a large firm called Kaplon-Belo. In 1990 Greg was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. The little bit of playing he did while fighting the disease, he did without a pick, using only his thumb to pluck the strings. They moved to his wife's hometown of Hong Kong in 1992 in order for her to start a new job and be with her family, and Greg resumed his professional music career. He had controlled the carpal tunnel by practicing Tai Chi, adequately warming-up and exercising.He was a guest soloist there with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and a member of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts presentation of "West Side Story". He was the featured classical soloist at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Country Club, and led swing big bands for the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and the American Chamber of Commerce annual ball. He played with Curtis Fuller and Richie Cole at the Jazz Club in Hong Kong.

He moved to Singapore from Hong Kong in Aug. '94, once again for his wife's job. He incorporated a small entertainment firm and by April '95, was busy on the local music scene as a performer and entertainment organizer. His first steady gig was three months at the Pan Pacific Hotel with Redd Holt. By the end of that month engagement (June '95), his marriage broke up. But he decided to stay there when in the fall of 1995 he secured a long-term job playing jazz nightly at Raffles  in Singapore.
Since Feb 2003, he has performed six nights a week at the Niche Bar of The Westin, Shanghai with an all-American quartet of Greg Chako - guitar, Donald Jackson - bass Jack Holland - piano, and featured singer-songwriter Dee Dee McNeil (who won the BET Jazz Discovery contest in the vocalist category in 2001).

His spouse is Takako Saito, from Japan.

Everything I Love (1994); Sudden Impact (1996); Live at Raffles (1998); Integration (2000); Integration II (2001)

An American Cat in the Lion City (short version, 15_ mins); An American Cat in the Lion City (full version, 60mins); World Beat in Concert (10_ mins); The Greg Chako Swingtet and The Jitterbugs Singapore (12 mins)

Contact information:
162 North 8th Street
Kenilworth, NJ 07033
Phone: 908 653-9700
FAX: 908 653-9702
23 Haigsville Drive
Singapore 438712
fax: 65-736-4215 ph:65-736-4214

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