Looking up…a phrase that exudes positive attitude and outlook. A sign of better things to come. With the state of the world these days, Gregg Karukas has put together a collection of music designed to take you on a journey and show you how things can be better. Looking Up, Gregg's debut CD on Trippin 'n' Rhythm Records, is eleven tracks of original compositions which offer listeners a taste of sounds from different parts of the world. From funky jazz and steel drums to Euro club music, there is something for everyone.
The CD opens up with “Girl in the Red Dress.” The terrific, pure piano blends well with the understated drum beat, but carries a direct, crisp melody. Michael O'Neill provides the perfect guitar alongside Gregg's piano. “London Underground,” again featuring Michael O'Neill on guitar, has the Euro, downtown, urban feel. It's upbeat and funky, and Gregg really lets the fingers fly on this tune and Michael's mid-song guitar solo fits well.
The title track, “Looking Up,” is a feel-good tune. With Thom Rotella adding the guitar flavor, Gregg gets groovy, and sets the mood of drifting away. This definitely expresses the total feel of the CD. For something to get your whole body moving, tune into “Relentless.” This song is aptly named because the movement, the beat, the pace of this track never lets up. “First Flight Home,” takes you to another place. The light touch of the keys, combined with the trumpet of Rick Braun, give you the sense of flight and the feeling of urgent travel. A personal favorite is the track “Show Me the Way,” with Andy Suzuki on sax. This tune is just fun and has a sound reminiscent of Gregg's days with the Rippingtons. Great give and take between Gregg's piano and O'Neill's guitar, and the sax moments add depth.
“Corner Club” is a Latinesque piece that showcases Gregg's piano playing. Andy Suzuki on flute gives it another dimension and Michael O'Neill's guitar solo is amazing. This melody makes you feel like swaying to the samba beat. “Isabella” is a peaceful song. Combined with the other tracks which make you feel as though you have been traveling, this sensitive piano piece makes you feel like you have arrived at your destination. It is just the keys leading you to a safe place. “CrossRhodes” features Gregg on the electric keys. It is a fast-paced tune that keeps you moving with it, wondering where this is going. Peter White and Richard Smith both appear on “Deep Into You.” The sound of the acoustic guitar alongside Gregg's piano is a welcome addition. It slows the pace down to give you a restful feeling. The melody is clear and gets into your soul. The final track “Lost in Negril” is pure island music. Steel drums opening the song, give you that far away beach feel. Like an escape. Gregg's piano is playful, and the ever-so-slight vocals add to that realistic feel of the Caribbean music.
Gregg Karukas has given us a musical adventure with this CD. The journey that all of his creations take you on bring you back home to one final thought: with music, things are definitely “Looking Up.”
- Bonnie Schendell