Jazz with gospel, R&B and blues roots Jazz Organ Group
Greg Hatza is one of the great, unsung heroes of the jazz organ, a expressive instrument full of emotion and feeling, bearing traditions ranging from gospel to blues. An acknowledged master, Hatza coaxes his own brand of rootsy, blues-based jazz from the instrument, a funky, soulful, sinuous sound that satisfies the groove junkie in all of us. Hatza became obsessed with the Hammond organ as a teen in his native Reading, PA when a friend turned him on to records by Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Ray Charles, and Johnny Hammond Smith. At 16, he played his first professional jazz gig with the Frankie Scott Trio, playing around small towns in central Pennsylvania. Because there were no jazz organ instructors at the time, he was largely self-taught, learning fromlocal and visiting organ players at jam sessions until Baltimore Colts football great and jazz fan Lenny Moore asked the teenager to perform at a club he was opening in Baltimore. Since then Greg has become a fixture on the Baltimore jazz scene. He received a degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory, and a Master's from Baltimore's Towson State University, where he taught jazz, piano composition, improvisation and music theory for many years turning students on to the wonders of the organ as well. His latest recording, Digging Up My Roots, features some of the R&B and Blues classics of his youth.