MPS Records - Start in 2017: 3x digital re-issues by George Gruntz (Jan. 13th, 2017)

MPS continues its digital re-issue program in 2017 and starts with three albums by George Gruntz. Check out these large ensembles and a lot of drums.

The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band //1970
One of Europe's most venerated band leaders, Swiss pianist-composer George Gruntz fronted small and large groups stacked with international jazz greats. This live GGCGB date is a dazzling example. All are internationally renowned jazz masters, many, such as long-time Mingus trombonist Jimmy Knepper, were innovators on their instruments; some, such as Americans drummer Elvin Jones, guitarist John Scofield, and trumpeter Woody Shaw are jazz legends. The compositions highlight Gruntz's arranging skills and allow for a lot of open blowing. Destiny opens up with a propulsive Elvin Jones drum solo, followed by Scofield's compelling play and Swiss musician Franco Ambrozetti's luscious, warm flugelhorn.

Line-Up: Jerry Dodgion (Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Flute), Mike Richmond (Bass), Elvin Jones (Drums), John Scofield (Guitar), Lois Colin (Harp), George Gruntz (Keyboards), Bennie Wallace (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone), Lew Tabackin (Tenor Saxophone, Flute), Alan Skidmore (Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute), Eje Thelin, Jimmy Knepper, Mike Zwerin, Runo Ericksson (Trombone), Allan Botschinsky, Americo Bellotto, Benny Bailey, Earl Gardner, Franco Ambrosetti, Palle Mikkelborg, Woody Shaw (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Howard Johnson (Tuba, Bary-Sax, Bass Clarinet)

From Sticksland With Love - Drums and Folklore //1967
Part of MPS's groundbreaking 'Jazz Meets the World' series, this 1967 album combines the Basel Carnival tambour and jazz drumming traditions. The Basel tambour band of Alfred Sacher and Georges Mathys' assemblage of top fife players join up with four internationally renowned Swiss jazz drummers. Presiding over the gathering: pianist-composer-arranger George Gruntz, 'the perfect mediator'. Sacher's drum corps lead off with the traditional march D'Reemer (the Romans), a piece whose origins are shrouded in the mist of time. Composed by Gruntz, the title piece introduces the four Swiss jazz drummers. The theme integrates tambour and jazz drum traditions before the four solos Charlie Antolini professes the swing style of Buddy Rich, Daniel Humair exhibits his 'melodic' approach, Pierre Favre shows restraint and a love of symbol colors, and Mani Neumeier takes an eclectic multi-perussion path. The next section features an Antolini-Favre duo followed by Neumeier-Humair. Then there's Humair disassembling his drum set, a climactic quartet duel, and back to the tambour style.

Line-Up: Jimmy Woode (Bass), Charly Antolini, Pierre Favre (Drums), Mani Neumeier (Drums, Congas), Daniel Humair (Drums, Drums [Kettledrum]), George Gruntz (Piano), Nathan Davis (Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone), Franco Ambrosetti (Trumpet)

Monster Sticksland Meeting Two //1974
In 1974, some seven years after the first Basel 'Sticksland' meeting, a 36-man percussion extravaganza took place that once again featured a top-flight jazz ensemble together with the Basel drum and fife corps of Alfred Sacher and Georges Mathys. Now add a Scottish drum and fife corps with the former and reigning Scottish drumming champions Jimmy Catherwood and Joe Noble, kilts and all, as well as some 300 fifers hidden in the audience of a theater packed to overflowing. The results: a Carnival Happening! Once again Gruntz masterfully 'mediates' the affair with his arrangements and conducting; on the jazz side, drummer Daniel Humair returns, joined by the British percussion free spirit Tony Oxley, master saxophonists Charlie Mariano and John Tchicai, and bassist JF Jenny-Clark.

Line-Up: John Tchicai (Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone), Charlie Mariano (Soprano Saxophone), George Gruntz (Piano), Jean Francois Jenny-Clark (Bass), Daniel Humair (Drums), Tony Oxley (Electronic Percussion), The British Caledonian Airways Renfrew Pipe Band, Basel Drum Corps, Basel Fife Corps

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