Gregg Karukas (born 1956) is a smooth jazz pianist from Maryland who first gained notice in Washington, D.C., then moved to Los Angeles in 1983. He backed Melissa Manchester before he co-founded the Rippingtons in 1985.
He experimented with drums, guitar, trumpet, and keyboards as a child, but it was not until his teens that he pursued music professionally as a pianist, having played with the Bowie High School Starliners big band. When he was sixteen, he owned one of the first Minimoog synthesizers.
Karukas spent five years with Tim Eyermann in the band East Coast Offering. After moving to Los Angeles, he worked with Shelby Flint, David Benoit, Richard Elliot, Grant Geissman, Dave Koz, Ronnie Laws, and Melissa Manchester. He was a member of the Rippingtons when they recorded their first album, Moonlighting, in November 1985. He has worked as a sideman with Larry Carlton, Jeffrey Osborne, George Duke, Rick Braun, Brenda Russell, Craig Chaquico, Boney James, and Peter White.
Karukas has received multiple Best Keyboardist nominations at the Oasis and National Smooth Jazz Awards. He has collaborated with Brazilian composer Dori Caymmi and Ricardo Silveira. He produced, arranged, engineered, and co-wrote two albums with Omar Akram, whose Echoes of Love won the Grammy Award for Best New Age Album in 2013.
He owns and distributes most of his music on his label, Nightowl Records (wikipedia)
2013 Grammy winner Gregg Karukas is back with a new collection featuring his signature piano touch, pristine production, and melodies that are both soulful and sophisticated. Organic, funky, and melodic is how the original Rippingtons keyboardist describes his latest, long awaited 12th solo project, ‘Soul Secrets’. Gregg’s elegant grand piano melodies and infectious grooves are everywhere; this time around he digs into his roots, featuring the classic Fender Rhodes, Wurlie, Minimoog and B3 keyboards quite a bit. At a generous and expansive 14 tracks and no covers, ‘Soul Secrets’ reveals Karukas as an artist who has refined his sound to be instantly recognizable while constantly exploring a wide range of styles and grooves – from old school soul-jazz, with hints of gospel, R&B and funk to the world/samba grooves he immersed himself in while touring with Brazilian legends Sergio Mendes and Dori Caymmi. The album’s debut single, ‘Elegant Nights’ is classic Karukas; it was the #1 Most Added Track in its first week on radio. The live interplay sizzles as Gregg surrounds himself with an all-star guest list that includes his friends Rick Braun, Euge Groove, guitarists Ricardo Silveira, Michael O’Neill, Adam Hawley and James Harrah; violinist Charlie Bisharat, Luis Conte, Eric Valentine, Nate Phillips; vocalists Shelby Flint and Ron Boustead and 21 year old rising sax star and occasional touring partner Vincent Ingala. (press release)
Gregg Karukas is a superb musician with an impressive track record. This album is really good and recommended. (Sven Böhlin)
I recently “discovered” this guy, and really like his music, he is an excellent keyboard player, and has some really talented guest musicians playing with him, they clearly enjoy their work – and play some very nice tight riffs. There is a good mix of moody and bouncy numbers too – I really raete him! (Richard Drake)
If you like Smooh Jazz … this album is a must !
Charlie Bisharat (violin on 10. + 14.)
Ron Boustead (vocals on 05.)
Rick Braun (flugelhorn on 02. + 08., trumpet, trombone on 08.)
Shelby Flint (vocals on 05.)
Euge Groove (saxophone on 03.)
James Harrah (guitar on 01.)
Adam Hawley (guitar on 12. + 13.)
Vincent Ingala (saxophone on 01., 06., 07., 09. + 11.)
Gregg Karukas (keyboards)
Michael O’Neill (guitar on 02. – 09. + 11.)
Nate Phillips (bass)
Ricardo Silveira (guitar on 05., 10. + 14.)
Eric Valentine (drums)
01. Do Watcha Love 5.16
02. Soul Secrets 4.17
03. GK’s Funky Joint 5.04
04. Elegant Nights 3.50
05. Rio Drive 4.53
06. Only You (For Yvonne) 4.45
07. Snack Shack 5.10
08. Cafe Agogo 5.11
09. Secret Smile 6.24
10. Above The Clouds (For Lisa) 5.25
11. Walking On Air 5.16
12. Told You Twice 5.07
13. Randy Heads Uptown 5.10
14. Time Alone (For Ty Malo 4.58
Music composed by Gregg Karukas
The official website: