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Mike Fageros: Bio

Little is known about Mike Fageros and up to this point he has been virtually unknown as a jazz guitarist. He first studied guitar at the Allan Massey School of Music in Georgetown, D.C. at the age of 13 and was fortunate enough to meet the legendary guitarist, Roy Buchannan, who was unknown at this juncture in 1965 as well. Roy was playing at the Silver Dollar in Georgetown(Washington, D.C.) and was nice enough to help Mike with guitar lessons at this young age. "I constantly hung out at the Silver Dollar and Roy would sneak me into the back room on breaks and show me this and that", says Mike.

Later on after playing with local rock groups, Mike got to open up a show for another legerdary guitar figure "Link Wray", at the age of 15. At 16, he moved to Baltimore and started playing at Art Peyton's club "Bluesette" on St. Charles St with a rock/blues band called "Rise". This was a "house gig" and they shared the stage with another group called "The Urch Perch". "We would play until midnite and then the club would switch gears into an after hours jazz club.

"This is where my love of jazz began, right then listening to the players, including vibrophonist Milt Jackson at the legendary Bluesette Club on St.Charles St. in Baltimore, MD named after the song Bluesette that jazzman Toots Thielmans of Brussels composed", says Mike.

After moving to Texas, his love and quest for jazz continued and he found work playing on the "chitlin circuit" with R&B groups such as "Richard and the Soul Seven" with sax man Richard Thomas and bassist Alfred Pena. He performed with the "Continentals", Gene Gilstrap and noted Waco saxophonist and music teacher Jackie Fletcher and noted drummer Jimmy Stanton amongst others. "We would warm up for a set with standards like Song for My Father until the main act came on", says Mike.

After those early days, he went on to study jazz at McLennan Comuinty College and Baylor University playing in both colleges jazz stage bands and got to back up the legendary vibrophonist Gary Burton at a school concert. He earned a scholorship for performance on guitar in the lab band during his sophomore year.

Gigging with local bands in Waco was not that profitable so he ventured to the thriving metropolis of Killeen TX where he started playing with the legendary R&B star Ray Sharpe (Linda Lou). The group was called "New World" and included vocalist Eddie Guion and they backed up Ray for his show. This led him to New York where guitarist Ray Sharpe introduced him to longtime friend, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman and guitarist Cornell Dupree. "I literally couldn't believe that an introduction to such giants of jazz could have such a profound effect on my musical career", said Mike. "I still remember hanging out at Ornette's pad and Cornell's apartment in Manhattan and how nice that they were to me as a young guitarist at age 21. "

The Killeen gig lasted for over a year and then it was time for another move, this time to San Francisco where he started gigging at the Concord Inn with a R&B jazz funk group called Classic Edition featuring a female vocalist "Birdie Lee" and band leader Bob Johnson. In the process, he recorded some of his own material which included a 45 instrumental "March of the Trolls" with a flipside called "Morning". This was eventually released in Texas in 1975 and got some local air play and interest. Later on drummer David Prater moved to SF and there were some sessions done there as well between the two. "I remember when David and I used to room together in San Rapheal. David has really done well for himself and I wish him all the luck in his future enterprises", says Mike. During his time in SF he got a chance to play with bassist Paul Jackson (Sr.) of the Herbie Hancock group(Thrust). There was an offer to move back to Kileen and the money was good so he ventured back to Texas again playing in another R&B group called "Boogie Express" with singers Neil Sharp(no relation to Ray) and Roland Stone(aka Roland LeBlanc of New Orleans). That is where he met drummer Nicky Ochoa and B3 organist Travis Doyle. They really tried to put something together in the studio and it came off great in an original jazz-funk/fusion type of sound.

At the time, resources were limited and Mike was working with New York producer Bob DeVere who had managed to get legendary jazz guitarist Pat Martino a record contract with Warner Brothers but unfortunately it wasn't to be and the material they had recorded in Austin along with bassist Maurice Tani wasn't accepted.

Then just when things seemed their sourest, Mike having been friends with Chicano/Latino stars Joe and Johnny Hernandez(Little Joe and the Latinaires/LaFamilia) started touring with the group backing up their older brother Tony the Top Hernandez. This in turn led to a gig touring with latin jazz trumpeter Luis Gasca whom Mike remembers well. "He was a great musician, friend and colleague and I learned a lot from him about improvising", says the guitarist. This gave him a new vision and he started again recording with David Prater on drums and Nicky Ochoa's brother Abel Ochoa on bass. Two cuts were done, Joy of Love and Baby Swet. After that, Mike moved to Austin Texas and started playing with jazz saxophonist Thomas Ramirez who was an accomplished soprano sax player along with ex-Electromagnets drummer Bill Maddox and bassist Spencer Starnes with Robert Dude Skiles on piano. The group performed at local venues including the famous Armadillo World Headquarters. That gig led to another demo session, this time for ABC records and included drummers David Prater and Bill Maddox, bassists Spencer Starnes and longtime friend Kyle Pilgrim along with keyboardists Neal Pedersen and Robert Skiles. The four selections which are now part of the "Spontaneous Combustion CD" being marketed on the website. Settling in Houston in 1978 led to a gig where he was hired by the Buddy Brock orchestra as a sideman on guitar. "That job really helped my reading skills", says Mike where he played alongside tenor giant Martin Langford. He also met up with the legendary Texas bluesman Joey Long in Houston gigging with him at the old Cedar Lounge on Airline Drive.

A serious finger injury that has since fully recuperated occured in October 2000 and caused him to seriously reconsider his entire life. His ring finger of his left hand was seriously injured in a near riot at a local after hours breakfast hang out. Although it wasn't broken, the finger remained seriously swollen and it hampered his playing severely. MRI'S were taken and exploratory surgery was considered. "That's when I had to reconsider everything, my musical direction and what I had been doing with my life in general. I worked with a hand surgeon, Emmie Ko, who helped me immeasurably". Fortunately, with diligence, perseverance and patience, the swelling abated and he was able to resume his musical career. He started playing every gig that he could find and jam session as well.

The road to recovery took approximately 2 full years and he went on to form an allegiance with local drummer Jovol Bell who studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Armed with original ideas, they enlisted the help from bassists Kato McKay and DeLover Axel and recorded the CD "Mars in October" which was released Feb. 2005. This CD has been a milestone because it was all self produced. Mars in October recieved airplay on KTSU 90.9 in Houston and many college jazz stations. It proved to be the spark that led to the the production of the  CD "Melange de Jazz" which features Mike playing in an organ trio setting with organists Robert Sanders and Travis Doyle and drummer Andrew Griffin who has recorded with Joey De Francesco. In addition, Mike produced the CD Smokin' on the B3 for Organist Robert Sanders along with drummer Gerry Gibbs featuring trumpeter Effrem Owens and saxophonist Jerry Coke.

 If that wasn't enough, Mike formed an allegiance with legendary drummer Marion Booker who recorded with George Benson on the Cookbook(Columbia) and Hammond Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith on the Think CD(Blue Note). Together, they produced the DVD entitled "The Meeting" which was a completely unrehearsed and spontaneous session and documentation of the first time that they ever had played together. Marion has become a mainstay of The Mike Fageros Jazz Trio as well as bassist Delover Axel and the trio has performed at venues including Cezanne (Houston), The Rosenberg Library Jazz Concert Series (Galveston) and Legends (Houston).

As well, Mike plays on the road as a guest artist and has performed in Brussels Belgium at Le Sounds with Eric Vermullen (piano) and Mimi Verderame (drums). He regularly performs with the Pete Swan Trio in Tuscon Arizona at The Old Pueblo Grille and has been gigging in Detroit with some of the legends of jazz at Bakers Keyboard Lounge which have featured pianist Charles Bowles, drummer Wendell Robinson, and vocalist Deborah Nero. In addition he plays with Milton and Phillip Hale at the Jazz Loft when he is in town.

"Detroit has been a great place for me to grow musically over the past 7 years starting in 2005. I never realized what a wonderful jazz community Detroit had until venturing there and working consistantly with local musicians", says Mike.  "My focus has been on the jazz organ trio and I was able to record Midnite Tippin in the "D" with Chris Codish and Ron Pangborn", says Mike. " I could have never produced that CD without help from the jazz community in Detroit, including local photographers that helped with artwork, including CD replication from Steve Sommers at Brox Records in Ypsi"

As well, Dayton Ohio has been a stopping off point for Mike with numerous gigs at the historic club "Jazz Central".  Mike has performed with several well known jazz organists recently including Tony Monaco, Lincoln Berry, Chris Codish and Duncan Mc Millan.  Jazz Central was the stomping grounds of many jazz greats including "Richard Groove Holmes", "Sonny Stitt" and is a true Hammond Organ club.

Mike met Pat Martino in 2005 at one of Pat's gigs in St Louis and started studying with him not long after that.  "Pat Martino has become a mentor to me and has helped me beyond my wildest imagination in my jazz studies", says Mike.  "He is truly like an older brother that I never had".

In 2011, a tribute CD to Tenor Saxophonist "Booker Ervin" was created featuring the track "Den Tex" and "Just Friends" and was done in the Hammond Organ/Guitar Trio setting.  It is available on CD Baby as well and hopefully, with God willing, more recording is planned in June 2012.