I’am deeply saddened by the loss of alto saxophonist George Robert. To say George was a hero of mine would be a massive understatement. I tried to do everything like him!
I somehow came across a CD of his with Clark Terry that I immediately fell in love with. I know the year was 1991 because I attended a music camp in Kelowna, BC that summer and couldn’t believe it when I got up there and found out that George Robert was playing a gig at the Eldorado Hotel (I think) in Kelowna. I was totally beside myself. I went to the show and it was absolutely amazing. I was taken with every aspect of his playing…his sound, his phrasing his tune choices….I was in heaven. It was so great to actually meet him and realize what a wonderful man he was. Then to find out that he was actually living in Vancouver. I could NOT believe my fortune. I started studying with him immediately and that led into an amazing friendship that turned into our families becoming quite close. Perhaps the only person I met that was nicer than George was his beautiful wife Joan.
Over the years there were so many good times, dinners, gigs, sessions, a trip to Switzerland to see them. Once George and family moved to Switzerland permanently (can’t remember the year) naturally we grew apart a little bit but I would still present him at the Cellar every year at the beginning of January. It was always such a great way to start the year off. Those yearly visits became less frequent as time went on and although there would be a flurry of emails once in a while we were both wrapped up in our careers and our families but he was always close to my heart and his tunes till showed up on my set lists at gigs.
He came to Vancouver in August, 2014 and I presented him at Hycroft and it was amazing. He had beaten his cancer and was full of life, so excited to be given a second chance and ready to conquer the world. We stayed in touch but then things dropped off a bit and I wondered if something was wrong and of course we then found out that yes, something was very wrong.
George, you inspired me, you excited me you made me love this music and everything that it is more than anyone I know. I hope you’re having fun up there all the cats. You will never be forgotten and thank you for all your wonderful contributions.
Here is one of his most amazing tunes and one of his greatest albums and like a ‘desert island’ disc for me!