"Mister Jazz of Switzerland"
George Gruntz was born in Basel/Switzerland (1932), lives in Switzerland, and counts today among the leading music personalities of Europe, mainly in the fields of Jazz (Composer, Conductor/Bandleader, Pianist). For his merits in ex-change of cultural values between countries of the World with Germany, he was awarded by German president Roman Herzog with the "German outstanding order of merit" (Bundesverdienstkreuz erster Klasse 1996).
As a Jazz Pianist and Bandleader (conductor) he has performed with many of the worlds jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon, Phil Woods, Roland Kirk, Miles Davis, Don Cherry – to name a few, and has conducted the NDR Radio Symphony, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Members of the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) as well as the Vienna State Theatre Symphony Orchestra (Burgtheater Vienna).
With his renown CONCERT JAZZ BAND he has traveled four continents, has performed in Halls from "Kudan Kaikan", Tokyo, to "Carnegie Hall", New York, and has been awarded top prizes in Japan and the USA. This work as well as his involvement in other projects is documented in countless Radio- and TV-Productions and on over 80 LPs and CDs under his own name and leadership.
As a composer George Gruntz has written many Jazz originals, of which a few became sort of standards ("Blues `N Dues Et Cetera", "Gorby Chief", "Spanish Castles", "Capricci Cavallereschi" etc.), has composed for Symphony Orchestras ("Thundermove", "Steppenwolf Preamble", "Skysymph Kaleidoscope", "ZEIT ZUG", "Vaterfreuden", etc.), written movie soundtracks (films directed by Bernhard Wicki, Peter Lilienthal, Fred Haines, etc.), for ballet ("Thundermove" choreographed by Heinz Spoerli), for the drama theater (Schauspielhaus Zürich, Burgtheater Wien, Würthembergische Staatstheater Stuttgart), has composed several Jazz-Oratorios ("The Holy Grail of Jazz and Joy", Styrian Autumn festival) and Jazz-Operas ("World Jazz Opera" w. libretto by Amiri Baraka/Leroy Jones for LaMama ETC. Theater New York; "Cosmopolitan Greetings" w. libretto by Allen Ginsberg, directed by Robert Wilson, Hamburg State Opera, "The Magic of a Flute" w. libretto by Anne Waldman, Jackson McLow, Tuli Kupferberg, Sonia Sanchez, Calvon Hernton, Marvin X, Dick Higgins, Lenore Kandel, Lennox Raphael, libretto basic idea and supervision Peter O. Chotjewitz; commissioned and first performed at MENUHIN FESTIVAL Gstaad/Switzerland, and performed at "SCHLESWIG HOLSTEIN MUSIC FESTIVAL" Hamburg/Germany - 2004).
Next to his work as an active performer, conductor and composer, George Gruntz was for 16 years chief musical director at Zurich's State Theatre "Schauspielhaus" and for 23 years artistic director/producer of the "Berlin Jazz Festival". Today still mainly on the road with many tour projects (his own trio featuring Mike Richmond and Adam Nussbaum, in Duet or more with Swiss trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti, in Trio with Dino Saluzzi and Thierry Lang, other Trio with Burhan Öçal and Matthieu Michel, Duets with Dietmar Schönherr and Karl Maria Brandauer, and more), he was 2002 and 2003 Artist in Residence at MENUHIN FESTIVAL Gstaad/Switzerland (Gruntz headlined his work there in the vein of 21st Century Renaissance, accordingly jazz-and-symphony-programs were 2002 titled "From Ellington to Gruntz" and performed by the ORCHESTRE DE LA SUISSE ROMANDE plus the LAUSANNE BIG BAND, both directed by Gruntz. And in 2003 Gruntz created in the same vain his new Jazzopera, "The Magic of a Flute" - Moaf - performed by improvising vocalists plus the NDR Big Band, Hamburg). Plans of MoaF foresee diverse European Tours in 2005, one of them in a Pocket-Opera-version, as well as a fully equippend US Tour in 2006. Commissions stand for the "Basler Kammerorchester" (2006) as well as for the MENUHIN FESTIVAL again (new "Symphonie LES ECHANGES" - 2008).