Follow Friday is a weekly interview series in which each Chicago artist we talk to recommends a fellow local act.
This week's guest: Greg Ward
Recommended by: Dana Hall
A jazz musician is a jazz musician, right? Not when you're a jazz musician who grew up singing gospel and occasionally dabble in classical and chamber performance, like Greg Ward. The saxophonist has had an eclectic career thus far (he's only 28), having played with everyone from Fred Anderson to Al Jarreau, and while he now mostly calls New York home, he's still got a soft spot for the city that shaped him.
Describe your sound in 140 characters or less.
My saxophone sound is truthful, raw, and powerful, with a strong melodic and rhythmic foundation rooted in the styles of my heros.
Where and when was your first show - and what was it like?
My first show in Chicago was at a bar in the Lincoln Park neighborhood called Lilly's. The gig was led by a guitarist named Michael Day and featured some of the scene's best young talents including Josh Ramos (bass) and Isaiah Spencer (drums) and one of my childhood friends, now based in NYC, Brianna Thomas(vocals). We played one set of standard jazz tunes and featured Brianna on a few songs as well. The gig was going great but we ran into some trouble during the break. I was attempting to buy an orange juice at the bar when the bartender asked for my ID. Since I was only 18 years old, along with Josh and Brianna, who was 17, we were all kicked out of the bar and didn't even have the chance to play the 2nd set. So, that was the end of that gig but I had an amazing time.
Name three of your favorite Chicago spots.
I love hanging at Pizza Metro on Division in between Ashland and Wood. There's always great food and conversation there. Also, Cafe Jumping Bean is a great place for coffee and fresh sandwiches. I highly recommend the turkey sandwich. For music, I love hanging at the Velvet Lounge, especially on a Sunday for the jam session. This is a place where many musicians get together to workshop ideas or to just catch up with each other. The Velvet Lounge will always be a special place for me. It's where I grew up, musically.
What Chicago artist/band should we interview next and why?
You should interview bassist/composer/bandleader Jeff Greene. He's an inspiration to me and others in Chicago because of his dedication to his art. I believe he will be one of the most creative voices in Chicago and will make a great artistic contribution to the world. Jeff is constantly developing and exploring his artistic voice and pushing the musicians he works with into new areas. More people need to know about Jeff Greene.