- Sat, Jan 7, 8:00pm
- Attucks Theatre
$45 - $85 plus applicable fees
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Sat, Jan 7, 8:00pm
Gregg Karukas and Adam Hawley Church Street Jazz Series
A prolific keyboardist, Gregg Karukas is known for his sophisticated contemporary jazz, incorporating Brazilian traditions, New Age, R&B, and pop. An original member of the Rippingtons, Karukas gained popularity on his own, scoring several Top 20 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums including 1998's Blue Touch, 2005's Looking Up, and 2009's GK. He has also worked on projects with crossover luminaries like Kirk Whalum, Dori Caymmi, Craig Chaquico, and more. He shares a Grammy for Best New Age Album with pianist Omar Akram for their 2013 collaboration Echoes of Love. In 2014 he again hit the Top Ten of the contemporary jazz charts with Soul Secrets and in 2021, he delivered his first-ever solo piano album, the Brazilian-themed Serenata.
Born in 1956 in Baltimore, Karukas started playing piano at age six and experimented with drums, trumpet, and guitar. By his teens, however, he was a dedicated keyboardist taking private lessons and beginning to work professionally playing organ in R&B bands. At age 17, he embarked on a five-year stint with Tim Eyermann and the East Coast Offering. He also spent time as a studio musician in Washington, D.C. before moving to Los Angeles in 1983. There, he gained a reputation as a go-to sideman and session player, working with artists like Ronnie Laws, David Benoit, Richard Elliot, Grant Geissman, Melissa Manchester, and more. In 1986, he joined guitarist Russ Freeman as a founding member of the crossover jazz group the Rippingtons, appearing on their breakthrough Top Five jazz debut Moonlighting.
In 2009, Karukas reached number six on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz Albums chart with his GK album. Along with saxophonists Jessy J and Vincent Ingala. He reached number eight on the contemporary jazz chart with 2014's Soul Secrets. In 2021, Karukas delivered his first-ever solo piano album, Serenata, which featured his original compositions alongside his interpretations of works by Brazilian artists including Milton Nascimento, Clube da Esquina, and Dori Caymmi.
Guitarist Adam Hawley is a gifted performer, sideman, and educator, known for his lithe, groove-oriented approach to contemporary jazz and R&B. After working steadily for over a decade with many marquee jazz and pop artists, Hawley launched his solo career with his breakthrough 2016 debut album, Just the Beginning, which featured three chart-topping smooth jazz singles including "35th Street," "Joy Ride," and "I Don't Mind." He has remained a Top 30 Billboard Jazz regular with albums like 2018's Double Vision and 2020's Escape. His fourth album, Risin' Up, arrived in 2021. Along with performing, the guitarist has a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California, and balances his time between playing live and teaching at places like Musician's Institute, Chaffey College, and Saddleback College.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Hawley started playing music at age eight, first taking piano lessons at his mother's request, and then adding guitar lessons a year later. As a teenager, he played in church, toured with a bluegrass ensemble, and led his own blues band. Also during high school, a friend made him a mixtape which included George Benson's 1976 hit song "Breezin'," and ignited his enduring love of contemporary jazz. In 2002, he relocated to Los Angeles where he attended the University of Southern California, eventually earning his Bachelor's, Master's, and doctorate degrees in music. Since graduating, he has played in a variety of live and studio settings with a bevy of pop, jazz, and R&B artists including Natalie Cole, Jennifer Lopez, Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, Gerald Albright, Manhattan Transfer, Peabo Bryson, Euge Groove, and many more.
Although he had originally planned to record a solo album in 2005, the abundance of live and session opportunities kept him busy. It also afforded him time to build a strong following, and in 2015 he signed with Kalimba Records. Hawley spent much of the next year touring in support of the album before joining Koz on tour in 2018. In August 2021, he released the full-length Risin' Up, which featured guest appearances by Steve Cole, Vincent Ingala, Julian Vaughn, and others.