George Gruntz

Pourquoi Pas? Why Not?

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It's safe to say that when George Gruntz founded his Concert Jazz Band back in 1972, few people predicted that the Swiss pianist would still be leading his post-bop orchestra 35 years later. Big bands, after all, carry a much higher overhead than small groups, which means that the vast majority of post-bop artists will never lead big bands -- and even if they do, it's likely to be a one-album affair rather than something that lasts for decades. But thankfully, Gruntz' Concert Jazz Band was still going strong in 2007, the year in which Pourquoi Pas? Why Not? was recorded. This 70-minute CD, like many of Gruntz' releases, is very much a team effort and is easily recognizable as a Concert Jazz Band recording; nonetheless, there is plenty of room for soloists to stretch out -- and contributors to this 2007 edition of the Concert Jazz Band include Marvin Stamm on trumpet, Alexander Sipiagin on flugelhorn, Larry Schneider and Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, and Chris Hunter on alto sax, soprano sax, and flute. Highlights of this excellent album range from an exciting version of John Coltrane's "Big Nick" to two arrangements of Swiss classical composer Robert Suter's "Pourquoi Pas?" to Gruntz' "In the Tradition of Switzerland" (which is based on the traditional Swiss folk song "Vreneli Vom Guggisberg"). Equally memorable is an arrangement of Lil Hardin Armstrong's "Struttin' with Some Barbeque," which is usually heard in Dixieland, classic jazz, and swing settings but works perfectly well as post-bop. Gruntz turned 75 in 2007, and the engaging Pourquoi Pas? Why Not? makes one glad that the Concert Jazz Band was still a high priority for him after many years.

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