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Post-bop pianist Greg Burk was born in Lansing, MI, to parents both active in classical music. He studied piano from a young age, sometimes with his improv-minded grandmother, and joined his high school's jazz band while playing gigs for pay on the side. He studied at UMass-Amherst with Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp, and finished his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan. After college, he moved to Bratislava, Slovakia, and toured central Europe with his own trio for a year before returning home. Burk hit the jazz scene in Detroit and Ann Arbor hard, honing his performance and compositional skills with the likes of James Carter, Rodney Whitaker, and Gerald Cleaver, among many others. At age 25, he entered the New England Conservatory of Music, where he completed his master's degree with teachers like George Russell, Danilo Perez, and Paul Bley, the latter of whom became a major influence on his approach. Burk subsequently remained in Boston to perform and record as a sideman. Burk recorded his first solo piano CD, Progressions and Digressions, not long after graduating, and in 1999 he became an assistant professor at the Berklee School of Music. He also played keyboards in the fusion outfit Fat Dragon, which issued the album Dream After a Large Lunch in 2000, and formed Bouncing Bach with guitarist Garrison Fewell, which arranged Bach themes for jazz quartet. Burk joined the reconstituted Either/Orchestra and appeared as a pianist and composer on their 2002 album Afro-Cubism. The same year, he made his first internationally available recording as a leader with the Greg Burk Trio, which also featured bassist Jon Robinson and drummer Bob Moses; Checking In was released on Soul Note to positive reviews.