George Garanian (1934 – 2010) was an ethnic Armenian Russian jazz saxophone player, bandleader and composer. He was the People's Artist of Russia in 1993.
Born in Moscow, Garanian was one of the first Russian musicians who attracted attention of Western world as part of the jazz from the USSR. He belonged to the first generation of Russian jazzmen who started to perform after World War II. As a musician (alto saxophone), conductor and composer he was the leader of country's best big bands: Melodia (1970s–1980s) and Moscow Big Band (1992–1995). He led the Municipal Big Band in the Southern Russian city of Krasnodar.
George Garanian was one of the first Russian musicians who attracted attention of Western world as part of the "jazz from USSR". He belonged to the first generation of Russian jazzmen who started to perform after the World War II. As a musician (alto saxophone), conductor and composer he always was among the best Russian musicians. He was the leader of country's best big bands: "Melodia", Moscow big band the Municipal big band of Krasnodar City (Southern Russia). This orchestra, supported by the government of Krasnodar District, Southern Russia, performs nationwide.
Garanian recorded more music than any other jazz musician in Russia, performed at many international jazz festivals (Finland, India, Indonesia, Cuba etc.), toured Germany, USA, Japan, Australia, Sweden, France, Taiwan and many other countries. Frederick Starr wrote in his book about Russian jazz that Garanian is one of the best jazz musicians in Russia. Starr quoted famous American critic John Hammond, who heard George at the jazz festival in Prague, Czechoslovakia, - "George Garanian is phaenomenal". And person number one in jazz, Willis Conover, the host of "Voice of America" jazz program, invited him many times to participate at International jazz festivals in Hungary, Yugoslavia and other countries.
In year 2000 George Garanian was nominated to the Grammy Award as a conductor of the famous Tchaikovsky orchestra for the double CD album "Oregon in Moscow", which had been made together with renowned American jazz group Oregon & produced by Pat Metheny Group's Steve Rodby. In September 2004 on the main Square of Russia founded a pavement Star in honour of George Garanian as the sign of absolute recognition & gratitude for his contribution into Russia culture.
George Garanian has always been & still is one of the most "sought after" musicians in Russia. He was the only jazz performer who granted the privilege to perform 4 concerts annually at Moscow Conservatory Great Hall (the most renowned classical venue in East Europe).
In March 2010 George Garanian Fund released the album "Jazz in Tuxedos" that was recorded by suddenly gone in January Maestro
George Garanian with "Moscow virtuosi" Chamber Orchestra & classical pianist Denis Matsuev. All the tracks in the album "Jazz in Tuxedos" suggest unique arrangements, that are originally made by George Garanian. Practically in every track there is George Garanian's alto sax solo & he is the conductor always. CD became popular right after it had come out as well as the new version of George Garanian's legendary manual "Basic foundation of variety & jazz arrangement".
He died from cardiac arrest in Krasnodar on 11 January 2010 at the age of 75.