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An Evening With Dave Grusin

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Customer Reviews

A stellar evening marred by a less-than-stellar orchestra

First off, let's get something straight right away: I LOVE DAVE GRUSIN. I love his music, his musicianship, and I admire him as a person. Always have. I've been listening to him for most of my adult life, and even got to interact with him as a music copyist on a couple of occasions. So it pains me deeply to be this critical of a live concert recording made in 2009, but I have to tell it like it is: the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra -- a student orchestra that has been moved from LA to Miami (which is where the concert took place) -- simply wasn't up to the task. They gave it a good try, but on several occasions you can hear either the woodwinds or brass noticeably out of tune (especially the french horns), and there are a few glaring key trumpet mistakes.

The string section sounds thin, which is something I never expect from a Dave Grusin recording. Since Phil Ramone was in charge of the sound, I doubt it was the recording itself that is to blame. The string count is 35 which is… OK, but it's not a symphonic sized ensemble; that would have to be a minimum of 55 to qualify. And there is an over-all stiffness to the orchestral playing that undercuts the beauty of the music. The only time the ensemble really comes alive is for "Peter Gunn"… and let's face it, if you can't knock Peter Gunn over the fence there's really no hope at all. Arturo Sandoval helps in this regard.

On the plus side, there are some wonderful performances by Jon Secada ("Somewhere"), the always-astounding Patti Austin ("Makin' Whoopee") and an inspired back-and-forth improv between Dave Grusin and flutist Nestor Torres on "I Feel Pretty." Grusin himself plays piano on the suite from "Milagro Beanfield War" and his heartbreakingly beautiful arrangment of the Porgy & Bess Medley, plus takes a final solo for "Memphis Stomp." Jon Secada's vocal on "Maria" is also outstanding, but is undermined by a slightly schizophrenic arrangement that vacillates between straight ballad and slightly up-tempo swing.

Ultimately, the positives of hearing Dave Grusin's music in a concert setting -- and the music of other composers he likes -- outweighs the negatives of the orchestra backing him up. As far as I'm concerned, there should be a yearly "Dave Grusin" night at the Hollywood Bowl or Tanglewood, just as there is for John Williams. If that ever happens, maybe then we'll finally hear Grusin backed with the ensemble he deserves.


Great musicians playing totally uninspired arrangements. Boring.

Heard It, Been There, Played That!

Ken nails it right on the wall...and how many times does Grusin, who we seem to love as a cult, have to record "Milagro...", or "On Golden Pond"? I can only add, that the double insult for me was Patti Austin's performance...not gonna go there! Poor Dave might consider performing Woody Herman as he did Ellington, that can inspire me!


Born: June 26, 1934 in Denver, CO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Dave Grusin has been a highly successful performer, producer, composer, record label executive, arranger, and bandleader. As a pianist, Grusin tends toward the fusion and smooth end of jazz, but he's primarily an accomplished film and television soundtrack composer. Grusin played with Terry Gibbs and Johnny Smith while studying at the University of Colorado. He was the assistant music director and pianist for Andy Williams from 1959 to 1966, and then started his television composing career. Grusin...
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An Evening With Dave Grusin, Dave Grusin
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