George Garanyan 15.08.1934- 11.01.2010
Academician of the Russian Academy of Arts.
The very first jazzman that became a Meritorious Artist of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and then a People’s Artist of Russia. State Prize of the Russian Federation Laureate, Various jazz music festivals laureate (in Prague, Bombay, Havana, Warsaw, Finland, Israel). Union of Composers Member, Union of Cinematographers Member, Academician of Nika Film Academy.
Companion of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland (4th class), Order of Honor.
All big events in the Soviet and Russian jazz culture will always remain twinned with George Garanyan. His first professional work was Oleg Lundstrem Orchestra. It was a team of Russian musicians from Shanghai that wanted to come back to their native land. The orchestra was determined to get this young and talented man and therefore opened a vacancy for the sixth saxophonist.
45 years later Oleg Lundstrem passed George Garanyan his stick and the circle was closed. But at first George Garanyan had to use all his persistence for being at the right time and place and trying to release all his potential. Almost all Soviet composers came to Garanyan after he became the head of the Melodia ensemble. They knew that he could bring them success. When he worked as a State Symphony Cinema Orchestra conductor, the same thing happened. He recorded soundtracks for The Irony of Fate, The Adventures ofBurotino and The Twelve Choirs. He created and arranged music for The Pokrovsky Gate, Recipe of Her Youth and A Girl from Rouen Nicknamed Doughnut. Everyone knows his excellent collaboration with director Eugeny Ginzburg in a musical show The Magic Lantern awarded in Switzerland for its soundtrack.
Being a very busy man he somehow managed to do everything. His improvisations were as adjusted as a detailed score. And every new work added new original note to his solo. When Yuri Nikulin offered him a job in Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard George Garanyan guickly got to the heart of the matter and composed many pieces for circus performances. There he received a new revelation. «After Tsvetnoy Boulevard I understood that jazz should also be tricky, — Garanyan confessed. — If you’re able to do something special, something unbelievable, something that no one else can repeat, then you’re a respectable musician. It’s all very similar to circus.»
One of George’s tricks was the Krasnodar Big Band. He became its leader in 1998 and made a stunning performance in Moscow three months later. An authoritative music critic Anatoly Agamirov called Krasnodar jazz «the most professional jazz in the Soviet Union and Russia over its history». But George Garanyan stepped even further. In December 2006 he invited the Gnessin State Musical College graduates to take place in George Garanyan Big Band. And he succeeded again! Musicians achieved their full potential and became vivid personalities, great improvisators and virtuosic musicians.
George Garanyan was sincerely respected. Not only due to his masterful sax playing and conducting, but also due to his humanities. Energetic but not suppressing, pushing but not manipulating, ambitious but not conceited. «Well, George, you’re a star, so you can let yourself be capricious a bit,» — once his friends said jokingly. «I’m not a star, I’m a serious man,» — Garanyan answered. Though an article from a newspaper, in which the artistic performance was called an ordinary job similar to medical operations, made him angry. «If it was an ordinary job, then there shouldn’t be any good artists and doctors.»
George Garanyan wasn’t only a big worshipper of jazz himself but also could revive interest in the others. Those who knew his Jam-5 TV-show and listened to , on the radio may not grasp all professional details but loved his voice and cordiality
There was a time when the Soviet media called George Garanyan «a long-haired mod in extremely tight trousers and an extravagant jacket». But in the end he won recognition from Russian journalists as the best propagandist of jazz in the country.
His activity demanded a lot of energy. Live performances took almost all his time so he couldn’t compose more music. But George Garanyan didn’t complain. And in this case a famous joke «there is no wedding without a bayan, there is no playing without Garanyan» is almost absolutely true.