Veteran pianist and Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, Phil DeGreg has put together a trio that showcases jazz standards and original pieces on the album, “Queen City Blues.” The at turns rollicking and subdued dynamics of the songs are engaging and brilliant. “Queen City Blues” was released Nov. 13, 2017.
About the Phil DeGreg Trio
Phil DeGreg is known nationally and internationally for his jazz piano work. In addition to his playing, DeGreg is Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies at CCM in the University of Cincinnati. He taught for 27 years. DeGreg’s own education was acquired at Yale and the University of North Texas.
In the 1980’s, DeGreg toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra. For 13 years, the DeGreg Trio accompanied numerous national and international jazz artists at Cincinnati’s famous Blue Wisp Club. The group has won the prestigious Cincinnati Enquirer’s, Cammy Awards twice. In addition, they have garnered CityBeat Magazine’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards seven times in the jazz category.
DeGreg’s resume includes teaching at the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops and performing and teaching throughout Europe and South America. He was even awarded a Fulbright Fellowship as a lecturer. DeGreg’s text, “Jazz Keyboard Harmony” continues to be used in private study and university settings.
Bassist Aaron Jacobs continues to be in-demand as he works with performers around Cincinnati in styles that range from jazz to rock to hip-hop. Jacobs plays upright and electric bass, and teaches at the College Conservatory of Music, of which he is an alum.
John Taylor is a freelance drummer, composer, arranger and educator based in Dayton, Ohio. He plays piano, guitar and electric bass in addition to drums. Taylor’s education includes a B.A. in Music Education from Wright State University. He does arranging work for competitive bands at the high school level throughout the Midwest. In addition, Taylor is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
The sound of “Queen City Blues”
The Phil DeGreg Trio plays together like a well-regimented unit. The songs are interesting, and seem arranged to showcase the best of each instrument. The tracks on “Queen City Blues” are a mix of originals and cover tunes. However, the DeGreg Trio makes each song sound like their own.
This Phil DeGreg Trio original song begins with a groovy piano line that pauses for a heavy drumbeat. This becomes one of the motifs of the song. The rollicking piano is soon augmented by fast-paced bass and drums. That a piano keeps the same super-fast pace as the drums and bass adds a sense of movement to the piece. Halfway through there is a break and the group plays maybe half as fast. Regardless of speed, the performance is confident. Toward the end, the track changes approach and an upright bass is played slow and controlled, allowing listeners to experience every note. At the end, the groovy, quick-paced piano motif from the beginning returns. The song ends on a definitive note, and doesn’t fade out, which seems appropriate.
The Phil DeGreg Trio makes the Gershwin classic their own. The gentle, but moody piano creates a romantic tone. Then, the crisp piano tones create texture against the swinging bass and the energetic and slightly understated drums. The drums make a shimmering sound amid the piano and bass. The bass showcase is nice–the drums and bass support it with occasional notes. But the spirit of the original remains.
With each member of the Phil DeGreg Trio having a long history of performance in jazz and other genres, it is easy to see why the work here is successful. The songs are well-crafted and well-executed, which means delightful listening for audiences.