In 1995 George was chosen as Director of the Swiss Jazz School and returned home to lead the program for the next 11 years. In 2003 he founded the Swiss Jazz Orchestra and earned the Suisse Foundation Award for his outstanding international career. He also toured with Phil Woods during that period and recorded several CDs with him.
He has had a long-lasting musical partnership with Kenny Barron and has toured Europe with him and together they have a number of recordings. In 2006 George moved to Lausanne and was hired as Director of the newly-created Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne which has the only jazz department in the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO), the largest university in the country. In 2009 he was honored by the French government and received the medal of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters, in recognition for his outstanding international musical career.
Throughout his career Robert has recorded well over fifty albums as a leader and performed with a who's who of modern jazz: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Jeff Ballard, Kenny Barron, Giani Basso, George Benson, Jerry Bergonzi, Randy Brecker, Brian Bromberg, Ray Brown, Terri Lyne Carrington, Bill Charlap, John Clayton, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Eddie Daniels, Jesse Davis, Joey DeFrancesco, Paquito D’Rivera, Billy Drummond, Jon Faddis, Paolo Fresu, Hal Galper, Benny Green, Larry Grenadier, Johnny Griffin, George Gruntz, Charlie Haden, Jeff Hamilton, Lionel Hampton, Slide Hampton, Tom Harrell, Billy Hart, Louis Hayes, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Billy Higgins, Daniel Humair, Hank Jones, Lee Konitz, Diana Krall, Michel Legrand, John Lewis, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Russell Malone, Phil Markowitz, Cecil McBee, Ron McClure, Bobby McFerrin, Jim McNeely, Bob Mintzer, James Moody, Dado Moroni, Lewis Nash, Adam Nussbaum, Nicolas Payton, Alvin Queen, Rufus Reid, Alex Riel, Claudio Roditi, Renee Rosnes, Wallace Roney, Arturo Sandoval, Bud Shank, Lew Tabackin, Clark Terry, Toots Thielemans, Steve Turre, Mads Vinding, Kenny Washington, Peter Washington, Frank Wess, Buster Williams, Jimmy Woode, Phil Woods, and many others.
So why is he largely unknown in the United States? Most likely becuase his CDs as a leader have been on European labels like TCB, Mons, and GPR so they are not well-publicized here. He first came to my attention a few years ago with the CD "Inspiration" (TCB 2000) as I was looking through Kenny Barron's catalogue and noted how he had often played as a sideman to George Robert. On this particular CD he was joined by Rufus Reid and Kenny Washington. Given such a powerhouse trio behind him, I figured that M. Robert had to be an outstanding saxophonist, and I was proven correct. Since that time I have invested more time and money into M. Robert's catalogue, purchasing "Peace" (DIW 2003), a duo with Barron on the Japanese import label; and several others.
Once you hear these CDs you'll wonder why George Robert is not a household name in jazz, at least in the U.S. His tone, expressive play, and choice of partners is impeccable, as demonstrated on these and other recordings. This is mainstream music of the highest order.