Chicago saxophonist/composer Greg Ward (now based in NYC) is an integral player in a number of distinct coteries of the contemporary music scene. In addition to leading his bands, Fitted Shards and The Greg Ward Sextet, Ward recently recorded with electronica artist Prefuse 73, arranged and conducted orchestra for Lupe Fiasco, received a commission from the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra (for a concerto for jazz quartet and string orchestra), and will be recording and performing with renowned rock group Tortoise. In 2002, the late saxophone legend Fred Anderson hand-picked Ward to curate the Wednesday night jam sessions at his club The Velvet Lounge. Ward has also worked with artists such as Von Freeman, Frank Wess, Al Jarreau, Carl Allen, Rufus Reid, Jeff Parker, Brian McNight and Hamid Drake, performing extensively at major venues and festivals in the States and abroad. He is currently a member of the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, Mike Reed’s People, Places, and Things, Blink, Loose Assembly, The Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, Hamid Drake’s Bindu, and Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls. He has recorded for the Roguart, 482 Music, Thirsty Ear, Clean Feed, and Delmark labels.
Ward’s diverse musical interests have led him to explore the world of classical and crossover music as a composer and performer. Recent commissions include a chamber work for ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), a new ballet for the Peoria Ballet Company, and a septet for Gallery 37’s Downtown Sound Gallery Composer’s Series. In June of 2007, he composed a quartet for sax, cello, guitar, and percussion (Infatuation With the Flame) that was performed as a part of the International Contemporary Ensemble’s ICE Fest 2007 and as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music Series.
The path to recording his debut CD, South Side Story (available on 19/8 Records on September 28, 2010), began after an intense period of study of composition and orchestration with some of the best teachers in the world (Ward studied orchestration with Cliff Colnot and composition with Sebastian Huydts), and the subsequent explorations with contrasting genres and sounds, discovering unique ways of combining them, and ultimately arriving at a true representation of himself; all that he is as a person and an artist; and all that he loves. “I’m convinced that this is the only way you can really speak to people”, said Ward. “I composed a set of music that soulfully combined some of the many sounds and styles that have influenced my musical development while still leaving room for my bandmates to interpret the music through their own experiences. Then I assembled the band which features Jeff Greene (bass) and Quin Kirchner (drums) from the band Blink, and rounded out the quartet with Rob Clearfield (keys/synth/guitar). We are Fitted Shards, which, I believe, is a term that describes what all music is: many ideas, sounds, and experiences all fitted together to create something unique and beautiful.” After a full year of developing the sound in the jazz/avant-garde scenes of Chicago, Ward felt it was time to record.
Another vital element in the conceptualization and realization of South Side Story is represented on the composition “All In”. Ward explains, “This piece, and really the entire recording, is about a point in my life when I realized that the only way that I would reach people through my music and achieve my goals was to go all the way, or to be ‘all in’, concerning every aspect of my life, especially music. So I’ve put everything into my career and my life and entered into an all-or-nothing world. If I don’t live this, my ideas won’t be clear and the music begins to sound hesitant, and that’s the opposite of what I want.”
The result is a staggering juxtaposition of styles and moods that tells Ward’s and Fitted Shards’ collective story of their time on the South Side of Chicago. A story, a composition, and a recording, that is sometimes exciting, sad, or beautiful, but always real.
“You know that feeling of discovery you get when you hear an emerging artist who seems to be making that next step? That’s Greg Ward. Ward has unusual command of his saxophone; his tone is burly and breathy, and it went everywhere he willed it to. . . . on a ballad that he said was inspired by a Daniel Barenboim-led performance of a Mozart symphony, the band (and Ward’s alto) turned toward sincere beauty, and nailed it. That was my ‘Eureka!’ moment, anyway.” – Patrick Jarenwattananon – A Blog Supreme, NPR
“Greg Ward is an amazing talent who was born to play the saxophone. He picked it up as a kid, worked hard and has risen through the ranks of Chicago jazz to thrill audiences around the world.” – Tim Reardon, Jazz Cabaret SoTish creator
“Ward in particular sounds terrific, balancing gorgeous lyric shapes with tightly coiled multiphonic screams.” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
..:: Source: Red Cat Publicity ::..