Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band, an orchestra that emphasized originals by bandmembers (both past and present) and the leader's arrangements, was one of the most stimulating of all jazz big bands, with a history spanning a number of decades. Gruntz, a fine pianist, played locally in Switzerland and then debuted in the United States when he appeared with Marshall Brown's International Youth Band at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. His trio in Europe accompanied touring American musicians in the 1960s including Dexter Gordon and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and formed three-quarters of Phil Woods' adventurous European Rhythm Machine (1968-1969). Gruntz recorded in many different settings, including with the Swiss All-Stars, a four-flute septet, and with Mideast musicians and Jean-Luc Ponty on 1967's Noon in Tunisia. In 1972, he formed the Concert Jazz Band, which through the years featured a who's who of top musicians including Benny Bailey, Woody Shaw, Franco Ambrosetti, Dexter Gordon, Herb Geller, Phil Woods, Eddie Daniels, Ray Anderson, Lew Soloff, Chris Hunter, Bob Mintzer, and many other Americans and Europeans; they typically toured twice a year and even performed in China. Gruntz also recorded with smaller groups, and in the '90s and 2000s, his records were released by Enja and TCB. George Gruntz died at his home in Basel, Switzerland on January 10, 2013; he was 80 years old.