Where did you grow up and how do you feel it influenced your playing ? I was born in Harvey, Illinois, 15 minutes from the south side of Chicago. When I was growing up there, the city was predominantly a Polish community. By the time I was 7 or 8 years old, it had changed to a mostly black population, after which my family became a severe minority. Consequence of this was, in my neighborhood and in my school, Motown, Soul, Funk, and Gospel music were predominant. I remember a school dance in 3rd grade hearing “Mother Popcorn” by James Brown. I absorbed a lot of that from an early age. On my own, I discovered the Blues beginning with BB King, Lightning Hopkins, and Howlin’ Wolf, in large part due to the great Hubert Sumlin. I had already been listening to, a few years before, British Blues, with the Yardbirds, and, ironically, John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers.
What brought you to bass and who are some of your big musical influences ?I just fell in love with the sound of the bass. I thought I’d give it a try ! My mother bought me a bass for my 15th birthday. When I started playing, some of the bassists I was listening to were Jack Casady, John Paul Jones, Roger Glover, and Geddy Lee. They were sort of the main influence, but I was also affected by Motown and Soul music from when I was younger. Then, of course, came Jaco Pastorius. I went to see Weather Report after I had been playing the bass for two years, and at this moment I became utterly depressed….I didn’t touch my bass for 6 months after the gig. Eventually, I went to get it, out of the weeds (;) and started playing again. Another important event happened around this time. I saw Muddy Waters play when I was sixteen years old, standing front and center about four feet away from him. It hit me like a sledge hammer, and launched me deeper into my pursuit of the blues. Also, I think it necessary to mention my lifelong obsession with Frank Zappa as a huge inspiration.
How do you describe what you do as a musician ? What are you after in each performance or recording session? I try to come up with bass lines that are interesting and enticing. To propel and color the song or the performance, remembering my role as the foundation of the song. Always supporting and surrounding the vocal, the melody, and the soloist. Just try to make it feel good..”If it ain’t got that swing, it don’t mean a thing” as the old saying goes. I just try to make it enjoyable for myself and for the audience. Not too little, not too much, but something with a “je ne sais quoi”…
Can you sum up some of what you like about the NJ4SV and the NP4a-A3 ?
Incredibly smooth, and balanced. They seem to project all the absolute correct frequencies, and none of the ones that are not desirable, or unnecessary. Tight, fast and articulate.
You’re currently working and touring with the legendary John Mayall and many people know you for your work with Buddy Guy. Can you tell us something about playing with musicians on that level? I have had the good fortune to play with many outstanding musicians, I find that each one of them has their own touch of brilliance. It is tremendously exciting to have these heavy weights next to me on stage or in the recording studio, and it always seems to raise my level of performance to a higher degree, kind of like an infection. It is a very special thing to watch these guys work their magic and to be a part of it, in that moment.
Some of the outstanding artists Greg has recorded or perfomed with include….Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Mark Knopfler, Joe Walsh, The Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, Otis Rush, Carlos Santana, The Allman Brothers Band, Todd Rundgren, and Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. Greg is currently the bassist, for the past ten years, with the ultra influential Blues great John Mayall.