George Gruntz, 1932-2013

George GruntzIn the wake of the death of Claude Nobs (see yesterday’s post), we learn of the passing of George Gruntz, another major Swiss jazz figure. The family of the 80-year-old pianist and bandleader reports that he died on Thursday in Basel. Felix Gruntz said that his father had suffered a long illness. A prolific composer and arranger, Gruntz led the George Gruntz Concert Band, which toured extensively and often featured as sidemen star soloists from continental Europe, Britain and the United States. Among them were Tom Harrell, Marvin Stamm, Howard Johnson, Charlie Mariano, Seamus Blake, Franco Ambrosetti and Daniel Humair.

Rifftides plans to have more soon about Gruntz and his career. In the meantime, here is his Concert Band with soloists Harrell and Joe Henderson featured at the 1994 Berlin Jazz Festival in Henderson’s modern classic “Black Narcissus.” Gruntz is at the piano. Adam Nussbaum is the drummer.

George Gruntz, RIP

(Update, 1/17/13) Tom Harrell just sent the following message. Notice his use of the present tense.

George Gruntz is a great musician and a great person
Thank you
Tom Harrell

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  1. says

    What a great loss to the jazz world. This was a truly creative man and his big band was one of the best ever.
    I know that Marvin Stamm was very close to him and loved playing in the band. This is a band I would have loved to play on!

    • Doug Ramsey says

      Mr. Schrick’s Wikipedia article is in German. If anyone knows of an English translation, please send a link.

  2. Bill Benjamin says

    Doug…thanks for reminding us of this important composer, arranger and pianist. I was fortunate hear his big band live in Chicago in 1987 during a one-nighter they did in the city. I can’t begin to name all of the monsters on the band that night but Joe Henderson was one of them.

  3. Patrick Hinely, Work/Play® says

    Having learned of George’s passing last Saturday morning from European sources, I have watched patiently since, waiting to see who would first post word on our shores. Good work on some sad news, Sir. I salute you, and all of us who love the music should give George a fond farewell salute.

  4. Lee Brenkman says

    I worked on the production a couple of shows with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band on the West Coast. What year it was I don’t remember exactly but I do recall that one of the members of the band commented that this tour was the proof of the old joke, “how do you make a million dollars with a Big Band….start with TWO milliion”.

    The sponsor of that tour was the Swiss Bank Corporation 😉

    • says

      I am really shocked to learn of George Gruntz’s passing. He was such a wonderful musician and great friend. He and his wife, Lilli visited me this past year. I was so happy to see him. I did many tours with George and he also wrote several jazz operas that I was a part of. He got me a full time job in Graz, Austria teaching which I kept for a few years. Oh George, I will miss you so much. I will always be grateful to you for all the faith you had in me when I had none. I will miss you my friend…big time….Sheila Jordan

  5. says

    I cannot attest to the excellence of the George Gruntz big band, but I do have fond memories of Gruntz as a member of Phil Woods and the European Rhythm Machine, which appeared throughout Europe and in the United States back in the 1970s. Phil’s playing was at a creative peak in that period, due I believe in no small part to the great rhythm section of which Gruntz was an important member. I recommend anyone with an interest listen to such tunes as “I Remember Bird and “Capricci Cavallereschi” for a sample of how the Machine worked.

  6. Alan skidmore says

    A huge loss a great friend and superb musician. Such happy memories.

    Alan Kay and Alice Skidmore

  7. Ahnee Sharon Freeman says

    I was stunned to find out that George is gone. I had the wonderful opportunity to play in his Concert Jazz Band and record with him. He was also a great friend to have and a wonderful correspondent! May he rest in peace. Condolences to his family.