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Dave Grusin — An Evening With Dave Grusin

April 6, 2011

O.k., so we are not noted here for traditional, swing, or big band jazz reviews. Still, there are just some personalities and talents too big and too bright to pass up.  This magical project, An Evening with Dave Grusin (scheduled for release on April 26), performed in an orchestral setting with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, makes for a marvelous exception. This is simply rich in every jazzy way. Even contemporary jazz fans just have to appreciate this splendid exhibition of quality.

As if the legendary film scorer, jazz pianist,  and co-founder of GRP Records, with his 40+ years of records, isn’t enough to attract major attention, Grusin brings along on this fantastic journey the wonderfully gifted Patti Austin (and her humor),  Jon Secada, flutist Nestor Torres , Arturo Sandoval, Monica Mancini, Gary Burton, and Sammy Figueroa, among others.  This great group tackles not only Grusin’s material but that of Leonard Bernstein (“Cool,” “Maria,” “Somewhere,” and “I Feel Pretty”), George Gershwin (“Porgy and Bess Medley”), and Henry Mancini-who was a mentor and personal friend of Grusin—(“Moon River” and “Peter Gunn”).

The set is not just live but alive with all of the sophistication and polish that you could expect from Grusin. His piano just dances and conducts the orchestra almost by itself, and the added value of Torres on “I Feel Pretty,” Austin’s playful yet stylish delivery on “Makin’ Whoopee,” as well as the huge contributions from Secada, Sandoval, and others just make the whole project glow.

I am reminded of the beautiful dance between jazz and blues when I hear such pieces as Bernstein’s “Cool,“  done proud  at Grusin’s hands.  I am equally taken by the beauty of the true duet as Austin & Secada take us gently away “Somewhere.” So sweetly done.

All in all, this project, the first ever to be offered on CD, Blu-Ray, and iPad App was a pleasure to review. A truly enjoyable “detour” for TSJR. – Ronald Jackson

At the time of this posting, Amazon had no mp3 sampler available. However, as soon ss one becomes available, we will post it here.