Sunday, January 12, 2014

Faces of the Artists' Quarter #39

Greg Skaff (2010)

© Andrea Canter

New York guitarist Greg Skaff has been more than a favorite out-of-town visitor to the Artists Quarter. Back in 1997, he practically lived at the club. Literally. On the road with the touring company for Rent, doing a three-month run in St. Paul, Skaff was housed in a make-shift apartment complex above the Artists' Quarter on Jackson Street. "I’m pretty sure I visited the Artists’ Quarter every night that it was open during those three months," he recently recalled in a commentary for Bebopified. "I didn’t have to worry about getting home, because all I had to do was get on the elevator. The eye-opener was discovering how much musicianship and artistry exists in the Twin Cities... Happy Apple, Bill Carrothers, Jack McDuff, Dean Granros, Craig Taborn, various members of the Peterson family, and too many others to mention...It was very inspiring for me and I made some lifelong friends."

Greg with Joey D (2010)
AQ owner Kenny Horst and long-time AQ bassist Billy Peterson are two of those lifelong friends. The three made a recording at Creation Audio which was never released. (Is it too late now?) But over the years since, Greg returned often to the AQ, playing with Kenny, Billy, Chris Bates, Bill Brown and more. "One memorable night, Joey DeFrancesco and Byron Landham sat in with me," he recalls.

Well before his Rent residency, Greg had cut his teeth with Stanley Turrentine, taking the guitar chair formerly occupied by George Benson, Kenny Burrell and Grant Green, and touring with the late saxophonist for five years. Overhis career he's headed his own bands and collaborated with such modern talents as Bobby Watson, George Colligan, Mike LeDonne, E.J. Strickland, Jim Rotondi and Matt Wilson.

But I doubt he ever sounded better than on the 2010 AQ Guitar Hero Weekend, mixing it up with Chris Olson and Loren Walstad, after performing back-to-back trio nights with Billy and Kenny, and "Downtown" Bill Brown. 

Greg with Kenny and Billy (2010)