One of urban contemporary jazz’s most versatile and acclaimed artists over the past 25 years, keyboardist/composer Gregg Karukas is now a Grammy Award winner for producing, arranging, engineering, co-writing and playing piano and all keyboards on Echoes of Love (a collaboration with Omar Akram), which won in the New Age Album category at the 55th Grammy Awards, held in Los Angeles February 10, 2013.
On Echoes of Love, as well as on Akram’s 2007 recording Secret Journey, Karukas’ ability to seamlessly blend his own melodic writing and playing to match Akram’s flowing piano style has earned the project rave reviews from fans of instrumental music worldwide, and especially on Youtube. In composing and arranging the majority of the music on this Grammy winning recording, Karukas employs an orchestral palette and a universe of exotic sounds in his state-of-the-art studio. He uses a Disklavier and computers with highly detailed sampled instruments - from grand piano and the traditional orchestral families (strings, woodwinds, etc.) to a myriad of ethnic percussion sounds and loops from all over the globe. Some tracks start as very simple, romantic melodic ideas that develop into cinematic orchestral climaxes; others are full blown world groove adventures.
One the songs are "demoed", the melodies and arrangements are then transcribed and printed from the computer for the guest musicians, who are given plenty of solo room to show off their own unique talents – resulting in a project full of exciting interplay and powerful dynamics. Veteran violinist Charlie Bisharat and guitarist Ramon Stagnaro (renowned for their many years recording and touring with Yanni) are featured on Omar's recent releases; their work on Echoes of Love was augmented by Mark Hollingsworth on wood flutes and percussionist Brian Kilgore and tabla player Melad Youssofi.
Karukas has been Akram’s producer and collaborator on his last three recordings, thanks to a recommendation from New Age pioneer and Grammy winning pianist David Lanz. Gregg produced tracks on Lanz’s smooth jazz breakthrough CD Finding Paradise in 2002. Omar celebrates Gregg's contributions in the CD's liner notes: “Gregg: This album is the result of your creative genius. It has been an honor to work with you and call you my friend.” Karukas says, ”I have been fortunate to be involved with Omar and quite a few artists in the early stages of their careers. The challenge of presenting their raw talents in “hi-fi stereo” with the best musicians and collaborating on different styles of music is always fun. This award is quite a surprise and an incredible honor.”
Here are some projects 2000-2006:
- I played keyboards on a few tunes on R&R (Rick Braun and Richard Eliott) including Wurlitzer on the #! hit " R&R".
- I played keyboards on the #! hit "Tequila Moon" and arranged Mas Que Nada for Jessy J's new CD with producer Paul Brown
- I co-produced, played, recorded and mixed Gene Burkert's new CD " Secret Passion" with Melvin Davis, Oscar Seaton, Mike O'Neill, Joe Bagg and others.
- I'm done co-writing and producing OMAR's 3rd CD on Real Music.
- I've been in the studio working on tracks for the new Rippingtons 20th Anniversary CD with Russ, Dave Koz and Brandon Fields.
- I'm producing singer/songwriter/pianist Christine Anderson's debut studio CD.
- I co-wrote a song for and played/mixed Ron Boustead's cool new CD, "Blend".
- I co-wrote a song (and did the track) with Richard Elliot for his new CD, Metro Blue.
- I co-wrote, arranged, produced and played keyboards on the new (Patrick) Lamb and Meyer (Patsy) CD w/ Abe Laboriel, Curt Bisquera, Paul Jackson Jr. and Dave Hooper……
- Here are some other projects I've been involved in over the past couple of years:
- I produced, mixed and arranged four cuts for David Lanz's latest CD The Good Life.
- I just finished producing, mixing and arranging for "new age/world music" pianist OMAR's 2nd CD on Real Music w/ Charlie Bisharat, Ramon Stagnaro and Pedro Eustache know for their work in Yanni's band.
- We tracked Michael Furey's new project here w/Joel Taylor, Keith Jones, Daryl Curraco, Adam Cohen, and others...
- I engineered some sessions for Rick Braun's new CD Esperanto with Kirk Whalum and Gerald Albright
- I'm done... co-producing songs w/Dave Koz for pianist David Lanz's new CD Finding Paradise.
- I recently recorded and mixed songs for Craig Safan's new Musical w/Broadway stars Alice Ripley (Sunset Bl., Rocky Horror), Jane Carr (Dear John TV) and Robert Gunton (Evita, Shawshank Redemption).
- My old buddy, Drummer Shannon Ford with wife, Broadway star Alice Ripley, Alex and Stevie.
- I'm doing pre-production and co-producing songs w/Dave Koz for pianist David Lanz's next CD.
- Michael Lington and I wrote a song together for his CD "Everything Must Change".
- Here at Nightowl I did an "all synth" track/arrangement of N'Sync's "God Must have Spent...A Little More Time On You" for Kirk Whalum for his new Warner Bros. CD Unconditional... with producer Paul Brown
- I mixed Phil Sheeran's new Christmas CD for Japan release
- I mixed trumpeter Ken Ross' new CD shopping for a label now.
- I played all the keyboards on a song by Brian Bromberg for Kim Waters new CD .
- Rick Braun and I co-wrote a song, "Borders," for Craig Chaquico's new CD. I also played keyboards on the track.
- We recorded five new songs for Tony Darren's next project. w/Land Richards, Keith Jones, Brian Kilgore.
- Here at Nightowl I did two "all synth" track/arrangements for Kirk Whalum for his new WarnerBros. CD My All and For You... with producer Paul Brown. I also did three songs live in the studio with w/ Little John Smith, Ricky Peterson, Ricky Lawson, Alex Al, Paulinho Da Costa, and Tony Maiden... with producer Paul Brown Sunset Sound .
- We just finished Phil Sheeran's new project Orchid w/Harvey Mason, Will Kennedy, Keith Jones, Andy Narrel, Eric, and others here at Nightowl.
- I've played and arranged for Argentinian singer Gabriella Anders' new Warner Bros. CD including a cool new version of "The Girl From Impanema" with producer Paul Brown, Carlos Vega, Boney James, and Larry Kimpel. Sunset Sound.
- We were tracking back in June for James Taylor's and Phil Collins' background singer Arnold McCuller. His new project features Ndugu, John Nau, and Nee Sakee, with Greg Porree producing. Nightowl.
- I did a few tracks for Peter White's Christmas CD. I did an arrangement of Joni Mitchell's "River" with Kenny Latimore singing, and played on a jazz session with Peter, Brian Bromberg, and Peter Erskine. Nightowl and Alpha.
- Speaking of Peter, I arranged and played a track for his new CD, a cover of Luther Vandross' "Don't Be A Fool." Nightowl .
- Tony Darren's CD, which I played on and produced with Al Schmidt is out on Telarc this spring. Nightowl, Capitol.
- I played all the instruments (except guitar) on two cuts on Craig Chaquico's new CD, a cover of Simply Red's “Holding Back the Years,” and keyboards on "Lights Out San Diego." Nightowl, Alpha.
- In the winter I did five tracks with Brian Bromberg for his new CD out now on Zebra. Nightowl.
- I played synths with an orchestra and mixed the score to the movie “Stinkers” to be released soon. Nightowl, Capitol
- Ellen Degeneres' first movie “MR WRONG” is now on video (I played synths and piano solos with an 80 piece orchestra for the score). Sony
- I also did the music to Rhea Pearlman's show “PEARL” with film composer Craig Safan. Nightowl
- I'm working on a children's TV show for Australia called “Pumkin Pete” with Barry Ennis. Nightowl
- I produced the Long Beach TV spot, a song written and sung by Shelby Flint. Nightowl