Her fascination with music dates back to her early childhood in Mongolia, where her parents worked as geologists on an expedition. Growing up, Hanka’s vocals were tested in different musical genres ranging from rock to funk, until she found her niche while living in Washington D.C. having sang with local jazz musicians who had a profound influence on her future musical direction. Once she returned from the U.S., she used every opportunity to perfect her jazz art until her path crossed with one of the most respected jazz pianists in Slovakia, Gabriel Jonáš, who was so impressed with her natural feeling for jazz, that he invited to her to perform with his band.
Soon after she was working with many professional jazz musicians, both on local as well as international scene, performing in various well-known clubs and music festivals.
Hanka was awarded a grant from the Slovak Music Fund to support the recording of her debut album “Reflections of my soul“, which was produced by Radovan Tariska, a well-respected saxophone player of the Slovak jazz scene, who also performes on the album together with other elite musicians – virtuoso jazz pianist Ondrej Krajnak, Tomas Baros on double bass and Marian Sevcik on drums.
For many years, Hanka has been one of the most sought after Slovak jazz singers getting invited for various projects, not only for her vocal ability, but also for her writing skills converting instrumental tunes into songs. To name just a few, she has been a special guest in various projects of Stefan Pista Bartus and Nikolaj Nikitin bands, on Sisa Michalidesova’s album “Expressions” and Marcus McLaurine. Currently she is releasing her third solo CD “Twin Flame” paying tribute to celebrated jazz pianists, where she wrote her own lyrics to majority of their instrumental compositions.
Hanka also joined Chris Byars Quartet from New York on their tour of Slovakia in 2013, performed as an opening act for Matt Bianco (2011 in Kosice, Slovakia), shared the same stage with Kurt Elling during his concert in (2014, Bratislava, Slovakia) and Cassandra Wilson (2014 in Bratislava, Slovakia), which was no doubt one of her most prestigious and memorable performances. In fall 2014 performed in South Africa and joined also Rodney Kendrick trio.
In 2014, Hanka was signed by Hevhetia Publishing House and released in July second solo album produced by jazz pianist Ondrej Krajnak, who also worked with her on her first CD. The album is called “Essence” and it is a tribute to Slovak folklore songs rearranged into jazzy tunes by Krajnak creating a very unique fusion. Only the Slovak & Czech jazz finest worked with her on this album, such as Josef Feco (double bass, cymbalo), Radovan Tariska (alt and soprano saxophone), Marian Sevcik (drums), Stefan Bugala (percussion), and Ivan Herak’s cymbalo band.
In addition to that, over July, 2014 Hanka went on a tour in Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic performing with a special guest from New York, Eric Wyatt, an extraordinarily talented tenor saxophone player who belongs to the global top jazz league, a son of the legendary tenor player Charles Wyatt.
In December 2016, Hanka released her third solo album recorded in duo with pianist Ondrej Krajnak, who also worked on her previous two CDs. The album is called “Twin Flame” and pays tribute to celebrated jazz pianists. Hanka decided to work with selected instrumental tunes written by well-known jazz pianists, vocalized them and wrote her own lyrics. (Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Ernest Olah – famous gipsy Slovak pianist, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, Ondrej Krajnak and Mal Waldron). At the same time, this album represents the pinnacle of cooperation with one of the Europe best composers-pianists, Ondrej Krajnak originally from Slovakia. The album was named after his original composition “Twin Flames”. This name captures the essence of both artists whose music is something like karmic twin flames, representing one soul in two bodies, the exquisite balance between a female and male principle.
Later in August 2014, Hanka visited the U.S.A. and performed at Arts and Architecture Festival in New Bedford Massachusetts, Ronald Mcnair Jazz Festival in Brooklyn and prestigious New York jazz clubs like Smalls Jazz Club, Smoke, Zinc Bar, Cleopatra’s Needle, Village Under-ground featuring Eric Wyatt Quartet as well as many fine jazz musicians. In Smalls Jazz Club, she had featured Eric Wyatt Quartet and performed jazz standards, Slovak folklore music and was given a standing ovation while performing her Slovak folklore song “Red Apple” from her CD Essence. The band featured Essiet Okon Essiet on bass, Theo Hill on piano and Shinnosuke Takahashi on drums. While in New York, Hanka recorded duet song produced by Eric Wyatt featuring following musicians: Eric Wyatt vocals and saxophone, Benito Gonzales on piano, Ameen Saleem on bass, Clifton Anderson on trombone and Duane Eubanks on trumpet.
Hanka re-visited U.S.A. in summer 2015 and performed with many great jazz musicians in New York as well as Philadelphia jazz club scene like Marc Cary, Anthony Wonsey, Marcus McLaurine, Aaron D. James, Charles Turner, Russell Carter, Essiet Okon Essiet, Ron Affif, etc…
One of her major accomplishments while in USA was that her music has continued to be played on following jazz radio stations: KCSM.org (San Francisco) DJ Pete Fallico; WPFWfm.org (Washington D.C.) DJ Rusty Hassan & DJ Tim Masters; WHPK.org (Chicago) DJ Lofton A Emenari; WCLK.com (Atlanta) DJ Jay Edwards; 893WUMD.org (New Bedford Massachutes) DJ Dave Reis; WKCR FM 89.9 (New York) DJ Sharif Abdul Salam; WCDBfm.com 90.9 (New York) DJ Bill McCann; WAMC.org (New York) DJ Tim Coakley. While in New York, Hanka also did several interviews for jazz publications and jazz radio stations. Steve Lee’s Jazz InConcert magazine featured story on Hanka and her recent tour with Eric Wyatt in Europe performing music from her CD Essence. DJ Jay Edwards from WCLK Jazz radion in Atlanta interviewed Hanka for his show “Jazz Tones”.
Throughout her career, Hanka has worked and performed with many jazz musicians: Marc Cary, Essiet Okon Essiet, Rodney Kendrick, Anthony Wonsey, Marcus McLaurine, Benito Gonzales, Eric Wyatt, Theo Hill, George Gray, Patches Stewart, Taru Alexander, Kris Funn, John R. Lamkin, Kenny Davis, Mimi Jones, Camille Gainer Jones, Chris Beck, Aaron D. James, Charles Turner, Russell Carter, Greg Murphy, Eric Wheeler, Shinnosuke Takahashi, Rael–Wesley Grant, Chris Byars, Ari Roland, Zaid Nasser, Keith Balla, Chris Poudrier Sr., John Harrison, Bill Miele, Jure Pukl, Klemens Markl, Dusan Novakov, Gabor Winand, Karel Ruzicka jr., Peter Lipa, and many others…
Copyright © 2017 Hanka G. All Rights Reserved. Hanka Gregušová - Jazz soul singer