“An Evening With Dave Grusin” (DVD-Blu-ray Disc)

“An Evening with Dave Grusin” (Blu-ray disc)
(Heads Up Intl./Jazz Roots/Capsule Media/Concord)

Review by A. Scott Galloway

A living legend of music, keyboardist, composer, arranger, film and television scorer, producer and record label co-founder (GRP) Dave Grusin has a catalog of accomplishments that is astounding. This high definition Blu-ray presentation finds the multi-faceted music master paying homage to three giants that crossed the jazz and Broadway worlds, along with a few of his own pieces from the Hollywood world. Centered around a live concert with 75-piece orchestra, rhythm section and stellar guest soloists as the foundation, the Blu-ray also boasts behind the scenes interview segments interwoven to illuminate both the process by which Grusin works and the mutual respect between he and his A-list of carefully selected collaborators.

Musical highlights of the 12 selections include Grusin’s own lively and percussive opener “Cool” featuring vibraphonist Gary Burton and drummer Gregg Field. The peerless Patti Austin strolls on stage next with her naturally witty repartee that leads into a highly personalized take on “Makin’ Whoopee” (which Grusin interpreted for the film “The Fabulous Baker Boys” as performed by Michele Pfeiffer, Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges). A medley of cues from his score to “On Golden Pond” is wistful as is a version of Henry Mancini’s timeless “Moon River” as sung by his daughter Monica Mancini. Several selections from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” dot the program but none more astounding than the latter’s grand finale “America” featuring trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, conguero Sammy Figuerora and reed man Matt Vashlishan. When one considers that Grusin has so much more varied material of his own that he could have covered, some fans might wish he’d dropped some of the “West Side Story” material in favor of something from his “Three Days of The Condor” score, the TV show “Baretta” or even some of the gorgeous ballads he arranged for Sergio Mendes & Brasil `66 to show ever more diversity.

Still, Creator-Producer-Director Larry Rosen, Co-Producer-Director Pascal Jacquelin and Audio Producer Phil Ramone provide a loving glimpse of a great musician surrounded by old and new friends that swing from singer Jon Secada and flautist Nestor Torres to the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Blu-ray also includes two featurettes and a connection to an iPad App that offers a treasure trove more insight into the magic that is Grusin. (Note: A CD of just the music is also available which was sequenced differently for flow.)

A. Scott Galloway
May 12, 2011
The Urban Music Scene

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