Cincinnati-born jazz guitarist Greg Chako took his first music lessons at the age of 9 on the accordion. With Hendrix as an admired hero, guitar then became his primary focus; and after just 1 year of guitar lessons, Greg won 2nd place among more than 1,000 contestants in the American Guild of Music competition. The following year, he placed first in a local contest, and later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he made the Dean’s list and earned an associates degree in Music Performance.
Anxious to experience life outside of school, he played with top artists like Junior Cook, Bill Hardman, Othello Molineaux, Johnny Lytle, Bobby Watson, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Raney, and others. He also gained “hands-on” experience as a promoter and organizer, running an ongoing jazz program in Cincinnati that featured both local and internationally recognized jazz artists. In Amherst, Massachusetts, he founded a non-profit Jazz Society and launched its inception with an outdoors festival featuring Slide Hampton and “Dr. Jazz” Ray Copeland. His efforts to promote jazz won him a grant from the Massachusetts State Council of the Arts, with which he featured famous African-American jazz artists from the New England area in a concert series. He formalized these promotional activities under the name Chako Productions, thereby starting a career of arts administration and music business that coincided alongside his performing.
Although Greg has always been a jazz lover and prolific arts promoter, his music career was not always consistent. In the late-1980’s, Greg even quit playing guitar for several years, while he pursued a lucrative stint selling industrial real estate in New York City. He also suffered numerous setbacks from health issues like Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome and bone spurs in his neck that interrupted his regular playing.
However in 1992, Greg moved to Hong Kong and resumed his professional performing and promoting career. He played in Broadway musicals including West Side Story; concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; in jazz clubs with jazz greats Curtis Fuller and Richie Cole; and booked and performed regular concert series for top-tier clients including The Oriental, Hong Kong, where in 1994, he recorded his first CD, Everything I Love, The Greg Chako Trio Live at the Captain’s Bar.
In 1994, Greg moved to Singapore and incorporated his entertainment business, Chako Productions Pte. Ltd. In less than 2 years, the company was generating around one million Singapore dollars in annual turnover and employing between 20 and 30 musicians full-time, with Greg managing its daily affairs as General Manager.