John Gregory

John Gregory
John Gregory (b.1928)

Whilst still at secondary school, I bought from a May day fair, an LP called The Big Big Sound of Chaquito and the Quedo Brass (1970). The sound was huge, crazy and winked at Perez Prado with whose own spicy arrangements my parents used to fill the home.

I found out later that there was no such South American as ‘Chaquito’. This sound came from the British, classically-trained arranger/composer John Gregory and a band of devilishly-gifted British musicians. The story goes that when Perez Prado learned this, he said he could not believe they were not indigenous South American musicians.

The imagination in Gregory’s music is extraordinary. Sometimes, he would end up arranging a piece so that it sounded better than the original. Check out his CD: Six Million Dollar TV Themes (2000) for example, and his arrangement of Post & Carpenter’s theme for The Rockford Files. In The Big Big Sound of Chaquito and the Quedo Brass (1970), Gregory makes brass instruments sound like bells and then spatializes them across the stereo field in call-and-answer patterns. It’s wonderful. His rendition of Galt MacDermot’s Aquarius is great.

John Gregory’s sound showed new parameters in arrangement: that instruments could imitate each other (clever); how to handle improvisation and ways in which space and music can relate. I’ve contacted John and he’s a lovely guy. Thank you John!

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