Pick up a
random Charles Mingus recording and chances are
good you will hear George Koutzen on the
cello. This versatile musician
also has the music of John Blow and Henry Purcell on his resume. One of his earliest recordings is
the compilation, The
1950’s: The Singers. Then the Charles Mingus
recordings start rolling in: The Complete Debut Recordings, Portraits in Jazz, and Thirteen Pictures: The Charles Mingus
Anthology. Oh, and he also
made the cut on The Debut Records
Story and Autobiography in Jazz.
years 1937 and 1954, he was a member of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under
Arturo Toscanini. In 1954, he
appeared on the live album, Marian McPartland at the Hickory House. He fittingly was included in the
1957 compilation, Modern Jazz Hall of
Fame. A recording he made
with Bill Harris and Jack Nimitz in the 1950s, entitled The ABC Paramount Harris-Nimitz Sessions,
was never released, although there are murmurs that it may be released on
CD at long last.
November 1961, George returned to his classical roots in a performance at
Judson Hall in New York for a program consisting of Johann Sebastian
Bach’s “Trio Sonata” from his Musical Offering.
In 1963, he
took up the conductor’s reins for the Rockland Symphony Orchestra, a
position he held until 1974. In
between, he still managed to record Who
Can I Turn To with Tony Bennett in 1964 and perform live with the New
York String Quartet. In 1972,
he recorded Morning Star with Hubert
Laws. Around the time his
tenure with the RSO ended, he showed up on Jan Akkerman’s
March 1975, he performed a trio concert with Inez and Nadia Koutzen. In
1979, he was one of myriad session pros on Frank Sinatra’s boxed set,
Trilogy. He stepped into the movie studio in
the early eighties for soundtrack work on an early Demi
Moore film entitled Choices.
It should be
of little surprise that he is on a variety of Charles Mingus CDs, including
the simply titled two-disc set, Charles
Rarities, Vol. 4, and The Young
Rebel. Other CDs on which
you can hear George’s cello stylings
include a pair of Rupert Holmes anthologies, Cast of Characters: The
Rupert Holmes Songbook and Widescreen—The
Collector’s Edition, as well as classical fare such as Purcell, Blow: Songs and Music of Nicolas Flagello.
still active in L.A. and is a member of the Navy Musicians Association,
established in 1995.