Interviews / Press

Interview with Georg Ruby 2017 (PDF) / Trierischer Volksfreund 2017

Interview with Georg Ruby 2018 (PDF) / Trierischer Volksfreund 2018

Deutschlandfunk / DLF / 16.02.2020 (Audio): „Zwischentöne“: music & questions about the person
Michael Langer interviewing jazz musician Georg Ruby

Georg Ruby interviewed by Michael Rüsenberg – „Past & Present“ - Stadtgarten, Cologne
15.01.2021 (Video)

Georg Ruby interviewed by Michael Laages due to Georg Ruby & Sascha Ley - The Laughter of the Red Moon (JHM 309) being awarded as album of the week by NDR Kultur (30 Oct -03 Nov 2023):
audio, pt. 1 (30 Oct 2023) - audio, pt. 2 (01 Nov 2023) - audio, pt. 3 (03 Nov 2023)


  • Georg Ruby & Sascha Ley
  • Georg Ruby VILLAGE ZONE Stephan Goldbach Daniel Weber
  • Georg Ruby Piano Solo
  • Georg Ruby - Michel Pilz
  • Ruby - Pilz - Weber & Brochier / RIMBAUD #4
  • Georg Ruby & JassLab de Cologne
  • Georg Ruby & Blue Art Orchestra
  • Georg Ruby & Wollie Kaiser

Georg Ruby & Sascha Ley

"The two experimental free spirits Georg Ruby (piano) and the singer and actress Sascha Ley (guest: Stephan Goldbach, bass) dedicate their joint album “The Laughter of the Red Moon” (JazzHausMusik) to the unforgettable Hildegard Knef: with courageous new interpretations of Knef's chansons and poetry, this homage is highly recommended to lovers of contemporary, barrier-free jazz.
In addition to unorthodox, almost feverish whirling over the piano keys, Ruby can also score as a reciter (Knef's "Die Herren dieser Welt") and as a surprisingly fresh and groovy (even rapping) singer. Ley's and Ruby's squeaky-happy scat duet "Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin" (I still have a suitcase in Berlin) is one of the one of the cheerful highlights of this multi-faceted, dramaturgically coherent tête-à-tête. Beyond the relaxed togetherness, its strongest asset is Ley's extraordinary virtuoso vocal artistry: she has more to offer than just spectacular indigenous singing techniques and gets to the heart of the expression, whether singing parody or speaking forcefully - and in explosive improvisation anyway. Even wistful pop dreams don't slip into sticky pathos. Great."
Saarbrücker Zeitung / Stefan Uhrmacher / 18 Nov 2023

"No one has ever approached the musical and literary legacy of the great German screen and stage diva Hildegard Knef (1925-2002) in such an original, artistic and eccentric way as Cologne pianist Georg Ruby and Luxembourg actress, singer and performer Sascha Ley in their joint project "Hildegard Knef revisited" - which can be heard on their new CD "The Laughter of the Red Moon" (JazzHausMusik, 2023).
Hildegard Knef is a legend: Her life's work revealed an incredible bundle of talents combined with a unique expressive energy. For her husband, the British actor and director David Cameron, "die Knef" was "a woman and a half": a woman who radiates far more in all her facets than an everyday star ever could. Her collaboration with Cole Porter is legendary and indirectly led to hundreds of Knef chansons by other composers whose lyrics she wrote.
On one hand, Ley and Ruby present a very entertaining reinterpretation of the music and literary set pieces, on the other hand they also pay tribute to the works of their musical environment and its composers such as Theo Mackeben, Peter Kreuder, Robert Heymann, Charly Niessen, Ralph Maria Siegel and Cole Porter.
The two musicians take the melodic and rhythmic structures of the originals seriously and process them in such a way that, on one hand, their recognizability is retained and, on the other, the improvisational Ruby Ley personal style is unmistakable. There are no stylistic boundaries in the reinterpretations of the Knef chansons: jazz-oriented ambience stands alongside song structures and merges into variations of Hildegard Knef's lyrical texts."
Jazz-Institut Darmstadt / Arndt Weigler / Sep 2023

"Hildegard Knef was one of the most important German actresses of the 1940s and 1950s. She was also a serious jazz singer who increasingly wrote poetry. Together with vocalist Sascha Ley, pianist Georg Ruby now dedicates himself to Knef's work in a pleasingly unconventional way.
Although Ruby and Ley have been working together for several years, The Laughter of the Red Moon is the first album they have recorded as a duo. Both are at home in jazz as well as in improvised and new music. Groove, swing, free improvisation and sound design are equally important to them when playing. They also share a soft spot for chansons in general and Hildegard Knef in particular. [...]
On The Laughter of the Red Moon, the duo plays with sounds and forms. Ruby explores the sonic possibilities of the piano. He prepares it and uses it as a percussion instrument. He also uses his voice by singing and creating percussion and drum sounds in a beatboxing style. [...]
To describe Sascha Ley as a singer who interprets melodies in no way does justice to the sound experience. One would be inclined to describe her as a vocal acrobat, were it not for the fact that the term is somewhat gimmicky. Vocalist might be a better description. It's probably best not to worry about such categories at all and just follow her voice and the music on the album. Despite all the thoughts and sounds, the music sounds pleasantly straightforward. It takes the listener along and surprises. Sometimes because of its energy, sometimes through daring twists and turns or rhythmic finesse.
The only thing you shouldn't expect from the album is to hear familiar pieces in a familiar form. Knef connoisseurs can get to know the pieces from new perspectives, non-Knef connoisseurs can simply listen to good and interesting music. Knef's lyrical strength is perhaps best demonstrated on "Mein Zeitbegriff", whose lyrics Ley recites impressively and with great intensity. Ruby creates a sound backdrop for this, for which he uses the piano with the described sound possibilities to acoustically intensify the emotional depth of the poetry.
When Sascha Ley sings into the open grand piano in the opener "Gern bereit / Love for Sale" and makes the strings of the instrument resonate with her voice, the sound bodies merge into something new. This beginning is perhaps emblematic of the entire release. Based on individual musical experiences and a shared passion, a work of sound art is created with a great deal of knowledge that unfolds its effect quite unscientifically and intuitively."
JazzThetik / Thomas Bugert / November 2023
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"They begin with Cole Porter's "Love for Sale", which is called "Gern bereit" in the German version, with German lyrics by Hildegard Knef, to whom the entire album is dedicated. She became famous through her collaboration with Cole Porter, whose version of "Shiny Stockings" is legendary. And although I was still a little skeptical at the beginning of "Love for Sale", they were able to convince me relatively quickly that it works. And that's mainly because they make the standards their own, with excellent and original piano playing and extremely exciting vocals, which are creaky one moment, a bit operatic and cabaret the next, before suddenly switching to driving and hard vocals. In between, the two perform in a kind of spoken chorus, accompanied by Ruby's incredibly creative piano playing. Five of the lyrics are by Hildegard Knef, and on "Eisblumen", Ruby's solo number, he is also the main singer who performs Knef's lyrics. And when they end with "Ich glaub', ne Dame werd ich nie (The Lady is a Tramp)" by Rodgers/Hart with lyrics by Knef, I have the feeling that I have gained an insight into a new part of jazz that absolutely fascinates me. [...]
This has become a very exciting release, which is different from most of what is coming onto the market these days. I see the whole release as a kind of cabaret or theater piece in which the two of them take us on a journey into a musical landscape that I find very German. And where creativity is at the forefront and where they make the music modern and contemporary, with extremely creative and fine piano playing and with a singer who is an artist with the use of the voice. An original, creative and strong release."
Salt Peanuts / Jan Granlie / November 2023
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Georg Ruby VILLAGE ZONE Stephan Goldbach Daniel Weber

"The playing wit, the oddball sneakiness of Ruby, who convincingly combines the modern piano literature of contemporary music with his own ductus, the melodic sensitivity and improvisational flexibility of the entire trio give Village Zone a sonic note that makes us marvel."
Kölner Stadtanzeiger / Martin Woltersdorf

Only a few have made such a name for themselves in German jazz as Georg Ruby: as (co-) initiator of the Cologne label JazzHausMusik and the Cologne Stadtgarten-Concerts, as a big band leader and jazz professor, as a teacher and journalist. Enough, he is also one of the great piano virtuosos in German jazz, animated by an astonishing technical capability and an inexhaustible melodic fantasy. … His Instant Composings are free improvisations which are combined with skillfully prepared piano include tonal alienations. … What variable if changes emerge, "execution work" in the classical sense is a highly intelligent one, congenial handling of the musical material. Ruby's composition "Rubum Allorans" develops out of a bizarre bass motif and then gives you the opportunity to play with the to develop an extremely accelerated musical showdown. The counterpoint to this is the unspeakably sad jingling of the coins in program comes full circle. …
Jazz Podium / Benno Bartsch / 06.2019
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… You'll also hear Jazzhausmusik label boss, Georg Ruby, stepping out on his own as he occasionally does to show what a great pianist he is. His trio tears it up on Village Zone. … Thepiano trio is one of the best balanced configurations in jazz, principally in that it allows for ample unconsumed space, otherwise occupied by wind instruments, among others. The Andrew Hill Trio, the Kris Davis Trio, notables examples are plenty, the closest of which to Georg Ruby's may be the Eric Watson Trio, whose music, except for Jaded Angels (2006, Act) is still too tender to be considered for a proper analogy. Ruby is an adept, mechanical performer, not unlike Taborn. But where Craig Taborn is pragmatic, Ruby, like a German idealist, remains methodical yet metaphysical. His "instant composing" too is functional but frenzied, as in the piece Legrand, whereby in almost villainous manner, the trio beset the set, the likes of which are rarely found among structured works of jazz.
Arian Bagheri Pour Fallah's „YEAR IN REVIEW“ / 12 Best Releases of 2019 by Arian Bagheri
ALL ABOUT JAZZ / Pour Fallah / December 2019

... Georg Ruby describes his band as a "spiritual communicative alliance". "I need communication with good musicians who do not want to subordinate themselves, in a music that they play together and that not only one musician has composed". ... From so much artistic enlightenment arises on "Saluti a Peppino" an idiosyncratic flow, which also allows itself some labyrinthine twists and bends. Free sound dialogues lead over to individually formed, even recitative-like moments. And the interactions between Ruby's sometimes powerfully straightforward, then subtly prepared piano, the filigree bass playing and an imaginatively charged noise poetry of the drums are fascinating.
Jazzthetik / Stefan Pieper / 05.2021

... Georg Ruby tries something new and very unconventional in the field of improvised music by mixing genres and letting something like irony and dialectics flow into his music. ... He presents a music that is constantly in flux and brings together many things that would otherwise, tucked away in dark drawers, be strictly separated from each other: improvisational music, paired with the adaptation of standards and film scores, the implementation of pop songs in sometimes miniature-like brevity, clearly defined in character and with a strongly condensed, concise statement. ... Together with the two piano- centered previous productions, one could speak of a triad of similarly conceived CDs. The addressee of the greetings in the CD title is the Italian singer Peppino di Capri. "Saluti a Peppino" contains two improvisational arrangements of two of his hits: "St. Tropez Twist " and "Le Stelle d'Oro". These two pieces bring something biographical and very personal to the program. ... And - they are bursting with cheerfulness and humor. ...
Jazz Podium / Benno Bartsch / 06.2021

Georg Ruby Piano Solo

… Ruby breaks up structures and experiments with unusual sound sequences without sounding deliberately shrewd or even analytical - his pieces transport emotions above all. "I'm into sound structures," said the musically active Ruby … What inspires Ruby to his pieces varies: Sometimes it is the works of other composers, but also films. A documentary about people who still dig for the valuable precious metal in an old silver mine was the inspiration for"Potosi". Ruby explained that he was fascinated by the simultaneity of past and present. He expressed this fascination with almost melodramatic sounds, bringing to life vast landscapes and the lightness of being in a dreamlike melody - filigree and of breathtaking density. Georg Ruby's pieces all have a scope and are animated by an exciting beauty. …
Kölner Stadtanzeiger / Christian Leinweber / 11.2010
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Georg Ruby’s music inhabits a place different from the other musicians under discussion. He always has one foot in the Jazz tradition while the other is way outside. He often prepares the piano, as on the two iterations of “Prison Song,” but he does so subtly, his rhetoric deep in the Blues while transforming it, often out of recognition. Along similar lines, there is his take on “Bye Bye Blackbird,” where fragments of the melody and its attendant rhythms gradually bloom to become sonorities related to but far removed from the standard, only later morphing into the tune as we recognize it. His group recording is similarly engaging, the compositions paying periodic homages to Monk’s unexpected twists and turns of phrase while always hanging just on the edges of accessibility; the playing of all involved follows suit. Ruby’s work encapsulates the Jazzhaus aesthetic, if one exists.
Cadence Magazin, New York / Larry Hollis / 01.2010

… and on the other hand the solo performance of piano player Georg Ruby from Cologne: according to “Jazz Classics By Today’s Improvisers” he takes up (often already defamiliarized) standards for his programme “From Ellington to Coleman”. He varies and takes them to pieces and improvises in such a subtle, imaginative manner keeping the spirit of the compositions alive yet opening new horizons. Ruby’s sensible and sensuous performance with a sonorous, swinging left and a rolling dynamic right hand - whose syncopic pounding reminds of the piano part of Wolfgang Riehm’s “Chiffre”-cycle - has become the first high point of the year.
Frankfurter Rundschau / Michel Rieth / 01.1989

Georg Ruby has rendered outstanding services to the German jazz scene in many ways - as co- founder of the Sadtgarten in Cologne, as manager of JazzHaus Musik and as conductor of junior big bands. It is sometimes unjustly overlooked that he furthermore belongs to the outstanding German jazz piano players. Ruby is especially convincing when it comes to the hardest test for the abilities of an improvising musician: the unaccompanied piano solo. His concert on DLF, December, 12th in 2005, was amazing because of his powerful technique and great imaginative improvisation. Original compositions as well as standards as “Bye, bye, blackbird” or even The Mackeben’s movie soundtrack “Bei Dir war es immer so schön” turned out to be sensitive masterpieces.
Deutschlandfunk / Harald Rehmann / 12.2005

Pianist Georg Ruby shows how multi-layered, varied and exciting improvised music can be. In addition to four freely improvised metalogens and his own compositions, there are also standards to be heard, namely "There Is No Greater Love" by Marty Symes, Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and "The Windmills Of Your Mind" by Michel Legrand. … His magnificent technique is only a means to an end and is never particularly brought to the fore. - This is "instant composing" at its best. nowhere.
Jazz Podium / Benno Bartsch / 12.2017
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Georg Ruby is not a musician who would envelop his audience in a cloud of romantic melodies. But he does present a breathtaking wealth of sounds in which the unadulterated sound of thegrand piano mingles with the jarring tones of a series of prepared strings. By breaking up the clear and pure with the blurred, he brings out the unexpected, the unpredictable from the motifs. … You can listen to this three-quarters of an hour of intense music several times and keep discovering new, surprising, unruly and ultimately well-hidden romantic moments.
Jazz Podium / Werner Stiefele / 10.2017
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… What Georg Ruby never does is to stage a conventional piano solo dramaturgy. He does not prelude, he does not increase tension and let it subside. He is in the music at every moment with equal intensity and attention, does not sort before and after, but insists on an uncompromising now.
Jazzthetik / Hans-Jürgen Linke / 01.2018
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… And yet the style of the originals also resonates in his tonal language, for example in the harmonies, which sometimes differ drastically from Ruby's own sounds. In these, he unfolds an enormous wealth of variations, of colours that are quite untypical for the piano. He prepares the piano with ping-pong balls, works with magnets, with riders on some piano strings, and occasionally adds a sustained tone with the electronic "E-Bow", which would not be possible on the piano. It is an unusual music that Georg Ruby represents - a music in striking proximity to the visual arts. … Music presents itself like a picture. … Perhaps the most interesting thing about his improvisations and compositions is that they cross disciplinary boundaries and build bridges between the different styles of contemporary music.
Trierischer Volksfreund / Martin Möller / 12.2017
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Georg Ruby - Michel Pilz

Bad Neustadt-born, Luxembourg-based Michel Pilz was part of the aforementioned Clarinet Contrast and played with Brötzmann in the Globe Unity Orchestra. Deuxième Bureau finds Pilz with Cologne-based pianist Georg Ruby, a master of free form, who spends more time prodding and poking his instrument’s innards than playing the keyboard. The results contrast harsh string strumming with pressurized lowing or frenetic triple-tonguing. Rattling the soundboard and wound strings, Ruby’s textures on tunes like “Lunettes Bifocales” resonate like gongs as Pilz’ chromatic lines define the theme. The two confirm their roots with “Blues Pour Solène” though, a piece that could have been played by Albert Nicholas and Don Ewell.
New York City Jazz Report / Ken Waxman / 06.2012

Another Duo. This one is really good. Ruby on piano reflects a variety of influences from John Cage to Cecil Taylor while Pilz also reflects a number of influences from Eric Dolphy to contemporary classical music. All compositions are listed as being by both performers, and given the nature of the performances, I would say they are all improvisations, with some agreement as to how each piece would develop. Though in some cases, especially in a long section of Papier Buvard, some passages could have been composed, or at least sketched out. Each piece is fairly short. At times I would have liked more development in a particular piece, but each piece is complete in itself. This is a very good example of leave the wanting more. Ruby does some great playing on the strings, and at some points it sounds like he is playing on a prepared piano, while at other times he is clearly playing on a regular piano. On Reprise hesounds almost like a gamelan. And his work on Lunettes Bifocals is outstanding. Pilz is all over his horn, playing nice quiet passages to some serious screaming. His lyricism in the beginning of Papier Quadrille is almost reminiscent of Ben Webster playing a ballad, making allowances, of course, for the different instrument. But the piece develops a bit more raucously. One track that really took me surprise is Blues Pour Solene. After hearing some complex interplaying, all of a sudden we hear an actual blues line. Of course, the piece develops in the style that has been established, but Pilz keeps reminding the listener that he is playing a blues, no matter how out it might be. It is nice to hear such a range of playing from a couple of classically trained European jazz players. This is a really great record featuring great playing by two great musicians who listen to each other an work well off of each other. This record may not be for everyone, but for those listeners who like this kind of music, this record is highly
Cadence Magazine / Bernie Koenig / 08.2012

Ruby-Pilz-Weber & Brochier / RIMBAUD #4

Rimbaud #4" is and remains an extravagant experiment. It combines the free playing of bass clarinettist Michel Pilz, pianist Georg Ruby and drummer Daniel Weber with the voice of French actress/singer Élodie Brochier. The concept of "instant composings" is consistently adhered to. With the exception of the texts by the surrealist French poet Arthur Rimbaud, nothing is predetermined. All instrumental interactions happen spontaneously - including Élodie Brochier's voice, which is used instrumentally as an additional timbre in some tracks. Not completely, but centrally, the interpretations refer to four texts by Rimbaud in German transcription. … The music of the trio/quartet is on a par with the texts of the poet master Rimbaud and creates a new, spontaneous form of artistic expression. Naturally, it demands open ears and a response from the listener to the sound experiments.
Klaus Mümpfer / Jazz Pages / 05.2016
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Luxembourg JazzMeeting 25-27.11.2016: The old have shown the young how the right way goes". The quartet around the native German with a Swiss passport, clarinettist Michel Pilz (in his early 70s), who grew up in the Grand Duchy and has been living there again for 25 years, and Cologne pianist Georg Ruby (in his mid-60s) put on a lively and refreshing concert between abstraction and emotion with their interpretation of some Arthur Rimbaud poems, against which the younger musicians in the Neumünster Cultural Centre had to measure themselves.
Martin Laurentius / 01.2017

Georg Ruby & JassLab de Cologne

The JassLab de Cologne "Eins und Eins" has succeeded in creating a grandiose Hildegard Knef homage. Knef, one of the best German chanson singers ever, was famously limited vocally. To turn this limitation into its opposite, to transfer it into a sometimes intoxicating opulence, toopen it up for a play without limits in every respect, is indeed the only conceivable new interpretation with which one can respectfully approach Knef. Wonderful, too, is the artifice of shifting Barbara Barth's singing ever so slightly behind the band or leading it into the metallic solitude of a megaphone. It doesn't get any smarter or more original than this. A great success by a great ensemble.
Jazz Podium / Volker Doberstein / 2016

Jasslab de Cologne honors Hildegard Knef … Georg Ruby's team rearranges the original versions as sincere as very smart … Knef's rediscovery may be ascribed to the spirit of Cole Porter, who is represented on one half of this great recording, because anyhow he was composing and writing jazz chansons. … The great silence began in February 2002 – when Hildegard Knef, the Berlin girl from Bavarian Ulm, died at the age of 76. Silence is over now. New Knef conjurations – unfamiliar, yet familiar as here – are welcome. Jasslab has made a fresh start.
LIEDERBESTENLISTE / Michael Laages / 3.2016
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Georg Ruby & Blue Art Orchestra

..The audience was offered a rare experience of excitement here, if only through the extremely varied improvisations of the individual soloists in the Blue Art Orchestra, above all the soprano saxophonist Christina Fuchs. The audience enjoyed a prime example of modern big band work, mainly due to the exemplary relaxedness of the arrangements. The attempt to bring together jazz and modern concert music was exemplarily successful by the arranger Georg Ruby.
Luxemburger Wort / Claude Müller / 10.2011

Georg Ruby has a great big band with his "Blue Art Orchestra" and perhaps the best thing about it: it is a real "working band", which is not at all easy to do with a big band. And now Ruby has addressed exactly that in his new double CD. "Sketches of a Working Band" is the name of the album and it shows this great, lively formation at the height of its ability. Most of the compositions are by Georg Ruby and band members such as the brilliant WDR Jazz Award winner and saxophonist Christina Fuchs. Others come from friends and alumni of the band like Manfred Schoof, Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider. The double album shows amazing power, presents unusual material and is an astonishing testimony to veritable joy in playing.
Saarländischer Rundfunk / Dr. Peter Kleiß / 04.2012

Georg Ruby & Wollie Kaiser

… What actually drives jazz musicians to play in a duo or, more precisely, what are the advantages of such a formation in contrast to a "normal" jazz quartet? … If you listen to Wollie Kaiser and Georg Ruby, not only is the question answered immediately, it becomes invalid; their sceptical undertone cannot stand in the face of the musical answer. … This music has the elements of groove, swing and time, as well as chamber-music-like, freetonal-abstract or free- jazzy-aggressive passages. Both musicians often consciously replace bass and drums, they take over their function and don't let longings for a quartet arise in the first place. In addition, theinstrumentation is extremely varied, almost fiddly. Apart from the usual saxophone, you also hear the clarinet family including bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet. After listening to this music, I ask myself the same question: why do musicians actually play in a trio or quartet?
Joachim Ullrich / 2004
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... but even when they are most impassioned (Ruby slashing away at the 88’s and/or Kaiser pushin the sonic extremes of his horn), an icy cerebral sheen indicating the duo’s overriding sense of (need for?) control prevals. To a certain extend, this flattens their expression, though the maturity of their compositions and the organic manner in which the improvised material is placed within these parameters (to say nothing of its overall grace) makes for a substantial listening experience.
Cadence Magazin/New York / Milos Fine / 05.2002