The Neue Zuercher Zeitung has just reported an announcement from the family of Basel-born pianist,composer, bandleader and festival director George Gruntz (above with soloists Joe Henderson and Adam Nussbaum). He died on Thursday at the age of 80, precisely on the same day that another giant of Swiss jazz, Claude Nobs, died. In sadness.
MIKE WESTBROOK WRITES:
“George Gruntz was a brilliant pianist, composer and arranger.
Elegant, sophisticated and articulate, a true jazz polymath, he enjoyed the sort of cultural status rarely achieved by European jazz artists.
Kate and I first met George when he promoted a performance of Mama Chicago in Zurich in the late 70s. As more or less contemporaries, with much in common, we stayed in touch, meeting from time on the European festival circuit, as well as at his big band’s rare appearance at Ronnie Scott’s. We shall miss that friendly and good-humoured contact with a kindred spirit.
George Gruntz was under-appreciated, and indeed little known on the UK jazz scene which, to its loss, has tended be more orientated towards the States than Europe. It is sad to reflect that his death, and that of other jazz greats, marks the passing of an era when jazz was centre-stage, and when it seemed all things were possible.
May his legacy, and the example of others of that more optimistic generation, inspire and encourage jazz lovers and practitioners.
A full account of George Gruntz’s career is in Michael Bourne’s Downbeat tribute.”