Greg Woods

Greg Woods, (aka "The Professor")

Born in Milwaukee, he attended Lee Street Elementary and graduated form Rufus King High School before going to IIT in Chicago to study engineering. He studied piano with a private teacher, but felt the material was not relevant to his life or musical tastes. After stopping the lessons, he did not play music again until when he was in Chicago and met a gospel singer who asked him to accompany her. He found that music relaxed him. He dropped out of engineering school disillusioned with a career as the employee of some nameless firm for the rest of his life.

That following fall he decided to go back to school at the University of Wisconsin and pursue courses that interested him. One of the courses he took was an innovative new course called the Experimental Improvisational Black Music Ensemble whose professor was Jimmy Cheatham. That led to courses in music theory and a workshop on electronic music.

Jimmy Cheatham encouraged the students to write their own material and by now Greg was considering a career in music. By the time he graduated, he was doing close to thirty concerts a year of his own compositions.

During the time at UW-Madison, he had also been playing in local and regional bands , as well as the UW-Madison Jazz Ensemble and having a radio program of jazz on WHA-Radio. Some of the bands he worked with during that time were , Black Haze , a rock group and Metamorphosis , a fusion jazz group which included bass player Jeff Chambers. He also had his own trio called Black Folks Musical Society with Sipho Kunene on drums. Bass players Dave Davenport and Bruce Alford also worked with the group. Drummer Ron Rhyne and saxophonist Robert Rhymes were also group members at various times.

Greg was also scoring music for dance companies, as well as recording local talent in the WHA-Radio recording studio. His group was a regular at local clubs and the Rathskeller in the UW-Madison Student Union. Some of his musical mentors were Ted Jackson (piano), Jeannie Cheatham (piano) , Mel Rhyne (Hammond organ) and Johnny Shacklett (guitar). Greg got to play with Richard Davis and George Benson when they visited Madison and his group, BFMS, opened up for Sonny Stitt when he was there. One day while practicing, he met legendary sax man Eddie Harris. Eddie suggested that Greg go to NYC to seek his fortune. So instead of going to graduate school, he decided to travel to NYC in the midst of the snow storm in the winter of 1977. In NYC, he struggled to survive and had to think about returning home. But after playing the cabaret circuit , he was finally able to secure a steady gig at Vincent’s Place in Harlem on 125th Street.

The college experiences with the Moog synthesizer helped him do some recording sessions, including his first major recording session with Japanese guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, “Village on Bubbles”, which became a gold record in Japan. After years of hard work and being consistent musically, he now tours with major acts and has his own recording studio and recording label. A typical day is sound check at 4 pm, dinner at 6 pm and a forty minute or less show at 8 pm. It has allowed him to play most of the major venues in the country as well as make his home in the NY metro area. Greg has also produced recordings and albums for Columbia , Def Jamm, Atlantic and Warner Brothers.

In 1979, he toured with Sugarhill Gang to promote their hit 12” single, “Rapper’s Delight”. As well as the Sequence girls, which was the starting point for current diva , Angie Stone, then known as Angie B. Some of his former Milwaukee and Madison bandmates like drummer Sipho Kunene and trumpeter Brian Lynch are also in NYC now pursuing their career. Bandmate saxman Rolla Armstead is now teaching in college. And Jeff Chambers has become one of the top jazz bass players on the West Coast.

Greg has played with artists like the Shirelles, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, Melba Moore, Phyllis Hyman, Chubby Checker, Roberta Flack , Gary US Bonds, Lenny Welch, the Drifters, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Miracles, the Coasters, the Cadillacs, Eddie Holman and many more.

On the jazz side , Ornette Coleman, Little Jimmy Scott, Rasheema, Idris Mohammed, Jack McDuff, Eddie Harris, Dave Valentin and many more. Currently, Greg ..aka The Professor, is putting together a Hammond organ group known as “Organic Kemistry”. He is also preparing to launch his website and expand his recording company, Metroboogie to a national prominence.

There are no regrets for choosing music over grad school in law or business. The journey continues.


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