The Swiss pianist and composer George Gruntz started this project in 1972 as a “band of friends,” and with friends like this, who needs phonographs? This edition of the GGCJB features some of the European and American soloists from the 1987 tour that landed them in Chicago, a solid primer of modern jazz technique and emotion: try saxmaster Joe Henderson, trumpeters Manfred Schoof (from Germany) and Marvin Stamm, trombone sensation Ray Anderson, and for this tour, the idiosyncratic singer/actor Mark Murphy (among others) all on one stage. This would be worth the trip if it was nothing more than a jam session, but Gruntz has always had something more in mind, and his greatest talent may be his own ability to balance large-scale compositional concerns, splendid ensemble writing, and plenty of solo opportunities in performance. That 1987 appearance was an unqualified success, yielding one of the year’s finest concerts, as well as a monumental CD album on the Hat ART label from Switzerland. And while no one can guarantee the same fireworks next week, the band is batting 1.000 in Chicago so far. Thursday, 8 PM, Crystal Ballroom, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/W. Patrick Hinely.