PlaySPACE: A Talk About a New Album, Challenges, and Advice

with Chris Greene


1.What inspired the creation of PlaySPACE? 

On January 28, 2018, the Chris Greene Quartet played a show in Evanston at SPACE - quite possibly the area’s nicest venue - in front of 100 of our most rabid fans. The audience was in great spirits and the band was particularly good form that night. I wanted to capture the energy of the night and thankfully SPACE is set up to do multi-track recording. My initial plan was that we’d get a decent recording, do a quick mix, and throw it up on our Bandcamp page as a free album for our fans as the fourth volume of our “PlayTime” series of live “bootleg” soundboard recordings. (The three previous installments of our “PlayTime” were released in 2010, 2012 and 2016, respectively.) Sometime after the SPACE gig, I gave a good listen to the recordings and was surprised at not only how good the band played that night but also at how well the recording came out. I decided immediately that most of the songs we played that night were worthy of a proper release. I gave the selected tracks to our producer Joe Tortorici to mix, and gave those mixes to our longtime engineer Rob Ruccia to master. As a result “PlaySPACE” is kind of a distant, upscale cousin to our “PlayTime” recordings.

2. How did this band come to be? 

My pianist Damian Espinosa and my bassist Marc Piane have been in the band since its inception in 2005. We’ve only had one personnel change: drummer Steve Corley joined the band in 2011. I initially started the band because I initially wanted to get back to playing acoustic jazz (with other musical influences) after touring with a pop/rock cover band for 5 years. The Chris Greene Quartet is also the outgrowth of an electric funk/jazz band I’d led since the mid 90s to the early 2000s.

3. Can you tell us about your process when composing the works for the album?

Everybody writes for the band, and everyone helps out with the arrangements of the songs. Damian may have a better idea for a chord on one of my tunes. Or I might have a better idea for a transition on of Marc’s tunes, or vice versa. Or I can always count on Steve to take a rhythmic idea I have and make it better than I could imagine. I’m the leader, but everyone has a say in the presentation of the material.

4. What do you want the listener to take away from this album? 

I kinda want them to listen to the album and think two things: A. “I wish I had been there to see this concert!” B. “When’s the next time these guys are playing? I’ve gotta be there!”

5. How would you describe the experience of working on this album compared to past projects? 

We’d previously recorded a live CD at a concert in 2011 (released in 2012 as “A Group Effort”) at a venue called The Mayne Stage. It was Steve’s third gig with us as an official member of the band. It was also our first time working with Joe Tortorici as producer. A lot more time and thought went in the logistical and musical preparations for that recording. By the time our January 2018 SPACE show came around, the band had played hundreds of concerts, festivals and residencies so I knew we were ready musically. I just needed to pull songs from our vast repertoire of songs that we either hadn’t previously recorded or had evolved drastically since the last recording. Also, we invited my good friend and Chicago saxophonist Marqueal Jordan to join us on a live version of a song we’d recorded together on CGQ’s last album - “The Crossover Appeal”.

6. Did you run into any challenges when working on the album? 

Other than convincing people to come out to see some jazz in the middle of winter and not stay home and watch the 2018 Grammy Award broadcast - nope.

7. What advice do you have for those trying to release their own albums? 

Be relentless and shameless when it comes to the promotion aspect. It’s your music, and it deserves to be heard. Get it out in front of as many people as you can. Have physical CDs at your shows. Make it easy for people to buy your music at your website or at digital download sites. I hate streaming sites, but that’s how people listen to music these days. Make sure your music is uploaded and available. 

"Be relentless and shameless when it comes to the promotion aspect. It’s your music, and it deserves to be heard." Chris Greene

8. When’s the next time this group will be out performing? 

We’ll be at The Promontory in Chicago on Wednesday, March 13 at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on Wednesday, April 3. We’ll also be at Andy’s Jazz Club every Saturday in April.

9. Where can I find/listen to this CD? 

Our websites: chrisgreenejazz.com. Also iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon, Google Play, Tidal, and other download and streaming sites.


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