Bass/Vocals (January 1976-January 1979)
Photo by Bill Sosin
After hearing the bass line to “Lady Madonna,” Greg Sarchet, age 14, picked up his first electric bass. Around the same time, he met Skafish at the Winner household, a wonderfully free-spirited environment where Greg and Skafish had both been hanging out. According to Sarchet, “beginning in elementary school, my musical and artistic interests were fostered and supported through my valued friendship with the entire Winner family.”
Sarchet was also inspired to become a musician by watching bassist Larry Mazalan perform in the Skafish formed group Sway in late 1973. The two became friends, and Mazalan strongly encouraged Sarchet to develop his talents.
Sarchet’s first project with Skafish was as bassist in the glitter/punk group Toast and the Understandables in 1974. Greg was also quite interested in playing jazz. Highly motivated, Sarchet bought a slew of jazz records, attended a Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp in August of 1974, and began upright bass studies with the legendary Rufus Reid.
Joining the Skafish band at its inception in January 1976, Greg brought tremendous precision to every performance-whether live or in the studio. Showing judgment that was wise beyond his years, he viewed his instrument as one piece of a more vast puzzle and never cluttered the music. Continuing his jazz and classical lessons while in the group, Sarchet went on to study with Paul Zibits, who is now a leading L.A. studio player, and, later, with renowned bassist Todd Coolman.
After leaving the group, Greg moved to Los Angeles and majored in music at U.C.L.A. from 1980-83 while continuing his studies with Paul Zibits. While living in Los Angeles, Greg played electric bass 7 nights a week at a Turkish belly-dance club with highly accomplished Iranian folk musicians, did jazz duties by day on the Queen Mary, and performed with the American Youth Symphony Orchestra.
In 1983, Sarchet moved to New York City where he lived until 1986. During that time, Greg received a Master’s Degree from the prestigious Juillard School under Michael G. Morgan. He worked for two seasons in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra before returning to Chicago in 1986 to assume his current position with the Lyric Opera of Chicago orchestra.
In addition to his work with The Lyric Opera, Sarchet currently plays Principal Bass for the Chicago Opera Theater and frequently substitutes with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He teaches bass at Northeastern Illinois University, Columbia College, as well as maintaining a limited private teaching studio.
Sarchet’s resume includes a wide range of performances and recordings, working with such artists as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Smashing Pumpkins, Styx, Electric Light Orchestra, Moody Blues, Dionne Warwick, Joni Mitchell, Ahmad Jamal, Mannheim Steamroller, and Nanci Griffith. He has also performed on hundreds of television and radio commercials.
Greg has a strong interest in researching the double bass, and his ongoing international exchange efforts were recognized by 1996 and 1998 Chicago Artists International Program awards which sent him to the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and Great Britain for performances, master classes, and archival research. These and other exchange activities have allowed him to build an extensive library of unpublished, out-of-print, and contemporary double bass works and chamber music, as well as a first-hand understanding of Europe's leading teaching methods.
He is co-founder of the Vienna Waltz Ensemble which performs selections from a unique collection of rare manuscripts. Scored for the traditional combination of two violins and bass, this "rock and roll band" of the 1800's brings back the spirit of Old Vienna with its cafes, dance halls and palaces.
Greg also sponsors activities for and maintains Bass Club Chicago, reflecting highlights of double bass activities in and around Chicago and serves to coalesce area professionals, amateurs, and educators alike.
Sarchet plays an 18th Century double bass attributed to Claude Pierray of Paris and a 1963 Fender Precision bass.
All photographs copyright by the respective photographers