"He can do anything - and he has done everything.”
-- Sydney Pollack
Who wouldn't have been impressed by the range and ability demonstrated by Dave Grusin at the end of the 1980s!
His eloquent sensitivity was the keynote of the reflective and persuasive score to the 1981 Henry Fonda-Katherine Hepburn motion picture “On Golden Pond,” which so dramatically displayed Dave Grusin's ability to use music to bring out what is unsaid in a film, and thereby reveal the whole.
That followed the first of several childhood movies, My Bodyguard, in 1980. On Golden Pond not only offered one of the finest examples of Dave Grusin's ability to enhance a film emotionally, it contained one of his most beautiful themes (and netted him a third Academy Award nomination).
Merely a part of the outstanding start to the new decade. Besides the U.S. release on Arista-GRP of the "Mountain Dance" album, he also made his first tour of Japan, a highly successful one which concluded with a major concert in Tokyo, televised and recorded for the album "Live in Japan."
Besides doing the music for Sydney Pollack's “Absence of Malice,” depicting journalism on trial, in 1981 Dave Grusin completed the score begun by Stephen Sondheim for the Warren Beatty classic, Reds.
The first three years of the decade gave him little time for recording studio support. Dates included working with Scott Jarrett, Patrick Williams, Donna Summer and Gerry Mulligan.
There was further evidence that he did not intend to spend the rest of his career behind the scenes with the release of the aptly titled "Out of the Shadows" in 1982, a varied and thoroughly entertaining smorgasbord of fusion-oriented performances.
This was the year when the GRP-Arista contract expired, and Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen decided to take on the financial and administrative burdens of running their own independent company. GRP Records was born, and they entered the market with a bang.
The award-winning "N.Y./L.A. Dreamband" album, a recording of a concert also made available on video, is a sparkling combination of jazz, film music and a theatrical concert piece.
An exceptional entry in the GRP catalogue was "In The Digital Mood," which in so many ways, made a statement about the high standard their company was aiming for. Featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the album utilized the best of the new technology and set a precedent when it was issued on CD. In fact, every GRP release came out on compact disc, a virtual recording industry first. DG fans will want to check out Tuxedo Junction to hear the master helping to make it the track which jumps the most.
Two New York oriented films were scored by Dave Grusin in 1982, the sophisticated comedy “Author! Author!” with Al Pacino, and the highly successful "Tootsie," featuring Dustin Hoffman playing a male actor doing a female part. Not just boasting a jazzy score, it was also the film which netted his nomination for a best song Oscar for “It Might Be You,” the lyrics of which were penned by longtime colleagues Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
A return to the small screen in 1982 created one of the biggest inscriptions in the Dave Grusin timeline. It was the irresistible signature tune for the hospital drama, “St. Elsewhere,” which ran for six award-winning seasons.
One of the more fascinating recording projects of the Grusin discography was produced in 1983 under the name "Night-Lines." Using complex technology, the album was virtually a solo effort with its producer `constructing' and/or `designing' all the musical parts. He regards it as a special highlight of his recordings, adding with a smile “They left me alone. They didn't know what I was doing.”
Five films with scores by Dave Grusin were released in 1984. The variety was highly diverse, from the eccentric mystery “Scandalous” to “Falling in Love” (otherwise known as the `Mountain Dance Movie'), a gem of a film with Meryl Streep and Robert de Niro. Included also were “The Pope of Greenwich Village” about the world of petty criminals, Le Carre thriller “Little Drummer Girl” and rite-of-passage classic “Racing With The Moon.”
The mélange of pictures completed for a single year provides as good an example as one could want of the extensive range of Dave Grusin's scoring talents. And there was even a totally new departure in the form of a theme for the daytime serial “One Life to Live,” used on the show for seven years.
Two of his most noteworthy projects appeared before the public in 1985, the lush and critically-acclaimed "Harlequin" album with Lee Ritenour and one of Dave Grusin's most lengthy and ambitious orchestral scores, and certainly one of his most popular, that for cult film “The Goonies.”
It was also that summer that he took on one of the most vigorous touring schedules since his early days with Andy Williams, performing at a substantial number of concerts and jazz festivals, across Europe and the US, culminating in a gig at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, which was taped and released on video as "Live in Session."
Included on those dates were Lee Ritenour and Diane Schuur. With the exception of these artists, Dave Grusin limited ever further his appearances on other people's recordings. The occasional exceptions through the rest of the decade would include Kevin Eubanks, Eddie Daniels and Patti Austin.
The next two years he scored another childhood film, “Lucas,” and the Dustin Hoffman-Warren Beatty comedy “Ishtar.” During the same period Dave Grusin began planning out some compilations from his film and recording careers, namely "Cinemagic," offering a retrospective of themes from his earliest to most recent movies, and "The Dave Grusin Collection," with highlights from his GRP records.
with Larry Rosen
The latter was released in 1988 in addition to a lively collaboration with his brother Don Grusin titled "Sticks and Stones." There was also a concert recording and video that year "GRP Super Live," which included top performers from the label, featuring Chick Corea.
On the motion picture front, geographical themes set the tone for the L.A. based “Tequila Sunrise” and “Clara's Heart,” taking place on the east coast, but with a definite Caribbean flavor. However, it was the New Mexico setting so wonderfully captured in the “Milagro Beanfield War,” which ensured that `Oscar-winning composer' was an appellation which would forever be attached to the name Dave Grusin.
His films in 1989 couldn't have been farther apart in character - “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (another Oscar nomination as well as multiple Grammy winner), a humorous musical dealing with small-time show business performers, and “A Dry White Season,” a gripping motion picture about apartheid.
As a result of the success of his score for “Milagro Beanfield War,” Dave Grusin included a suite from the picture on the 1988 Grammy-winning album "Migration," along with some other original tunes. Outside film scores, an entire decade would pass before he recorded another of his own compositions.
Few colleagues among his fellow scorers and musicians amassed such a body of work in one vocation for the 80s. Being honored with BMI's Richard Kirk Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1989 was just one acknowledgement of this. The mind boggles at the prodigious output from his keyboard and composing careers put together, most especially considering he was running a recording company and producing records on the side. To say he did "everything" seems almost an understatement.
Go to 1990s Chronology