Gregg Arthur lives and breathes the music of the greatest era of American cool, when men always wore suits and had the impeccable manners to match.
Growing up on a property on the McIntyre River an hour out of Inverell, isolation was no problem for the young Gregg. When not working the farm, he immersed himself in his father’s extensive record collection, which included all the classic albums of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Later, in Sydney, he enjoyed performing in musicals, and even appeared as an extra with the Opera Australia Chorus singing Mozart, Lehár and Verdi, but it was obvious that his true passion lay elsewhere.
Gregg soon made his way to the United States, and with his matinee-idol looks and personable manner, he discovered that the way into the world’s toughest music scene was deceptively simple. ‘I just started going to gigs featuring great musicians and whenever they’d have a break I’d go up and start talking to them about music. Inevitably it would end up with me getting up onstage and singing with them.’
But while his reputation as a singer of rare ability grew steadily, these impromptu gigs with the legends of American music weren’t necessarily lucrative, and European options weren’t much better. At one point, finding himself penniless in Paris, he slept for three nights in the Gare du Nord, protected from being moved on by the vagrancy police only through his trademark tailored suit and repeated protestations that his train was delayed.
Eventually, though, as his accolades from the masters multiplied, the American opportunities began to arise on a more consistent basis, and he settled in Las Vegas, working with such luminaries as Vincent Falcone (former musical director for Frank Sinatra), Gus Mancuso (musical director for Sarah Vaughan) and Bob Rosario (bandleader and arranger for Bobby Darin).
Now based back in Sydney, he continues to travel the world for months of every year as a true inheritor of the Sinatra legacy, performing the great standards and original arrangements with orchestras, big bands and quartets.
In Australia he has recorded with the legendary Tommy Tycho and his 50-piece orchestra, and given many intimate jazz performances with friends Steve Brien on guitar, Andrew Dickeson on drums, Craig Scott on bass, and Michael Hope on piano.