Chris Greene is a product of his city and of his time. The Evanston, IL native and multi-hyphenated saxophonist/composer/arranger/bandleader/producer has absorbed the best and worst of the Chicago music scene and also the last 100 years of popular music. A product of Generation X who reached the milestone age of 50 in 2023, Chris sits firmly in the position of being seasoned enough to study the elders and masters of music (especially the music called Jazz), while being young and open enough to keep an ear to the new and latest artists and innovations. He is a mash up of Lester Young, Von Freeman, Wayne Shorter, James Brown, Maceo Parker, Prince, Michael Jackson, Yellow Magic Orchestra, NWA, A Tribe Called Quest, Steve Coleman, D’Angelo, Madonna (yes…MADONNA), and his hero Branford Marsalis. It all comes through in the music, but is never contrived or blatant. These artists as well as many others are all parts of him, but the final product is…HIM.
The progression of Chris’s music has been well documented over the last 25 years, which spawned 11 albums and 2 DVDs. Blessed with the understanding of wanting to develop a unique band concept and sound, he has worked with Pianist/Keyboardist Damian Espinosa since 2001 and Bassist Marc Piane since 1998. After adding Drummer Steve Corley in 2011, the Chris Greene Quartet had all the elements in place to take the music in whatever direction they desired to go. Mixed meters, angular burn out, songs with sing-along melodies, ballads, the blues, swinging unapologetically, off the beaten path covers, or jams that stay deep in the pocket and groove you to death…they can do it all. Their connection and dedication is well displayed in the series of live recordings the Quartet released over the last 10 years (A Group Effort, PlaySPACE, misSPACEd, PlaySPACE 2: Play Harder). Like the legends before him, Chris knows that the music really happens on the bandstand in front of a live audience in an honest, unadorned exchange of energy and spirts.
To that end, CGQ’s latest release is another great live moment captured at the music venue, Evanston SPACE. On this summer night in July 2023, Chris had an ace up his sleeve. He reached out to frequent collaborator and super dope MC D2G and asked him to sit in on “Crossover Appeal.” D2G had a private gig earlier in the city that evening, but that wasn’t the only obstacle. The other was of “Renaissance” proportions. According to Chris, “neither of us realized that the SPACE show was on the same night as the Beyoncé show. Thankfully, I structured the show to allow if he was running late. He ended up getting to his table with enough time to grab a drink and sit for a song before I called him up. What you hear is what happened afterwards.”
And what happened is a master class in wordsmith improvisation. D2G exhales exactly one minute into the song and then proceeds to take the audience on a five minute, freestyle lyrical joyride that leaves you laughing, smiling and screw-faced. When he starts rhyming over the 6/4 time signature groove…game over. CGQ keeps the groove the main “thang” and provides the perfect bed for D2G to go off. With lines like these, how can he lose:
“And now I’m past, like the Hulk was here
Quite Marvel with it
And they lookin’ right now…
What am I sayin’ next
They lookin’ startled with it
Augmented? Naw, really I am authentic
When it come to rappin’ bro
They got another reason to doubt me
They really thinkin’ that I’m cappin’ though”
Nah, bruh. There’s no doubt at all. D2G is not the next one; he is already here. And he along with the Chris Greene Quartet launches from SPACE into “space” with this groove-ship pushing into the atmosphere. In Prince-like fashion, Chris records every live show he performs. I can’t help but think what if he didn’t capture this moment. Luckily, you don’t have to be concerned with that.
- Marqueal Jordan (saxophonist, vocalist, composer)
released December 1, 2023
D2G on vocals, Chris Greene on tenor saxophone, Damian Espinosa on keyboards, Marc Piane on electric bass, and Steve Corley on drums & percussion.
Composed by Chris Greene and Anthony Di Angelo Ingram, Jr. Basement Jazz (ASCAP) and D2G Music (BMI).
Produced by Chris Greene for Cee Gee Music LLC. Co-produced and mixed by Marc Piane. Mastered by Rob Ruccia at Uptown Recording.
Recorded live at SPACE, Evanston, IL on July 23, 2023. Engineered by Dan Glomski.
Graphic design and layout by Michael Kostal. Photo by Dominic Guanzon.
The CGQ has been a highly visible part of Chicago’s jazz scene since 2005, and has maintained a stable lineup from the
beginning, with the exception of Steve Corley, drummer since 2011. Damian Espinosa on piano and keyboards and Marc Piane on basses have been onboard since the beginning. CGQ incorporates funk, hip-hop, rock, pop, the blues and reggae, reflecting their diverse backgrounds....more