Jack Gregg comes from The Home Of The Blues Memphis, Tennessee, USA. His first musical influences were the Blues, black Gospel and Country and Western music. When he heard Louis Armstrong recordings he knew this was the music he would play first on ukulele at age 10 then trombone at 12. He was attracted to the bass by a tradition in Country music which cast the bass player as the Clown of the group. He wanted to be the clown and when he got tall enough (age 15) he began the bass and became professional almost instantly playing with “dance bands” and small Rhythm and Blues bands. At 17 he escaped Memphis by enlisting in the US Army which sent him for 2 years to Alaska where he had the chance to play with and learn from more experienced musicians. Out of the Army he went to California to briefly live the Jack Kerouac beatnik dream then back to Memphis and New Orleans to travel the South with local bands. In 1961 he joined the big band of Claude Thornhill touring most of the US for two years playing the early arrangements of Gil Evans. The band was based in Chicago and here he heard for the first time live some of his Heroes: Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Paul Chambers, Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderly,
He moved to New York City in 1964 studying Classical bass with the great Master Frederick Zimmermann and Swing for one and a half years on the bandstand of Jazz legend Roy Eldrige. The 1960’s were a magic time of great energy and creativity in New York. Parallel to the social and political upheavals caused by the Hippies and Black Power Movement Jazz was changing. For Jack that meant playing Free Jazz with Marion Brown, Jeanne Lee, Paul Bley, Andrew Cyrille, Chiic Corea and others. The powerful influence of the era’s Rock music fell on Jazz and he played in many jam sessions and gigs with Larry Coryell, Gary Burton, Steve Swallow, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette. In 1970 with Dejohnette, Bob Moses, Jumma Santos and Harold Vick he formed “Compost” one of the first Jazz-Rock groups. In these years he also performed with Jaki Byrad, Horace Silver and the big band of Gil Evans. He also began to make frequent Free Jazz tours of Europe with the Galaxie Dream Band of Gunter Hampel.
In 1976 suffering from a severe overdose of Vietnam and Nixon and attracted to the Old World he made the move to Europe spending time in Germany and Hungary before settling in Paris. He would stay there 19 years living la bon vie and touring extensively in Europe, the Caribbean, North Africa and Africa. There was Free Jazz with Frank Wright, Noah Howard, Marion Brown, Raymond Boni and more, gigs with two mighty Memphis bluesmen Memphis Slim and Booker T Laury, tours with Joe Henderson, Joe Lee Wilson, Steve McCraven.
In May 1995 he was invited by Tom Hornig and Avo Tutenjian to play one week at the old B018 in Beirut. During that week he fell in love with Lebanon and felt more at home than he had ever been. He returned in August this time meeting Ziad Rhabani and Walid Gholmieh both of whom encouraged him to move to Lebanon. In November he came to stay playing with ZR at the Key Klub and establishing the Double Bass program at the National Conservatory of Music. With Arthur Satyan and Steve Phillips he formed the trio Three Wheel Drive which was allowed to contribute to the Jazz culture of Lebanon for 8 years. Currently he is a member of the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra and a co-conspirator of the web site http://www.lebjazz.net/
In 2005 he returned to Paris and recorded a remarkable studio session with Steve McCraven, Tom McClung and Barry Wedgle including “Ma Fi“, his prayer for his wife Mandarine dreamed in Beirut. He traveled to Germany, Finland and Estonia with Archie Shepp and appeared in trio with Aldridge Hainsberry and Bobby Few. As the Grateful Dead sang, “what a long strange trip it has been”.
Take Off Your Body – Compost – Columbia
Life Is Round – Compost – Columbia
Painted Lady – Abbey Lincoln with Archie Shepp – Inner City
Conspiracy – Jeanne Lee – Earth Forms
Back To Paris – Marion Brown – Marge
Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun – Marion Brown – ECM
Wooley The Newt – Steve McCraven – Seeds
Bittersweet In The Ozone – Bob Moses – Mozown
Live At Documenta IX – Noah Howard – Altsax
Salma Monodose – Ziad Rhabani – In Out
Jazz Is Alive And Well In Beirut – 3WD – CDTheque