COLUMBIA - CL 2344
LOVE LETTERS (3:43)
STRAIGHT, NO CHASER (7:32)
WHAT'S THIS (5:04)
STELLA BY STARLIGHT (4:09)
BLUE MONK (9:30)
Thad Jones (trumpet), Frank Foster (tenor sax), Larry Rosen (drums), Bob Cranshaw (bass)
Arranged by Dave Grusin
Produced by Robert Mersey
Backed by Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Bob Cranshaw and future GRP co-founder Larry Rosen, Kaleidoscope represents the final recording in Dave Grusin's early headliner career, before disappearing `into the shadows' to become a leading film scorer, arranger and producer. While he served as sideman on numerous recording dates this was all the public were to hear of him as a featured artist until the aptly named “Discovered Again” in 1976.
But the touch, taste and style of the master pianist he was to be known as in later decades was all there on this 1964 album. In fact, even many fans who eagerly buy his largely non-acoustic albums, would say he later went down a cul de sac without giving them a chance to hear more of this most satisfying sound.
The title track “Kaleidoscope” opens the set. This 12-bar blues Grusin original establishes the fact that this record is going to swing mightily. A lot of credit goes to Columbia and producer Bob Mersey, who allowed Dave Grusin to, in his own words, “do more or less what I wanted to do” adding, “this is the first time I've ever felt as relaxed in a studio as 1 would playing in a club."
An upbeat “Love Letters” follows, with only Bob Cranshaw and Larry Rosen completing the piano trio. Like all the arrangements on this album, the interpretation is complex without losing the integrity of the melody.
A loose and creative club feel is perfectly achieved on “Straight No Chaser” with terrific ensemble playing, including former Basie hand, Frank Foster, blowing cool on tenor sax.
The second of the three Dave Grusin tunes, “What's This,” takes its roots from blues and gospel.
Introspection with a beat is achieved on “Inez,” which is the kind of think piece Dave Grusin became so noted for executing in later years. It is easily the most fascinating track on the album.
“Stella By Starlight” is the second of the two standards on “Kaleidoscope,” again with only drums and bass - a driving interpretation of the usually wistful piece. Plenty of opportunity here to see why Dave Grusin established himself early on as one classy jazz pianist.
A salute to trumpeter Conrad Gozzo, whom Dave Grusin worked with on the Andy Williams Show, follows. The title “Gozwil” is an appellation pinned on the trumpeter because he always predicted the time rehearsals would end, thus linking him to the prognosticating columnist Criswell. Written by Dave Grusin after Gozzo's death, the piece with its multiple time changes suggests with affection the musician's high-living lifestyle.
The session concludes with the jazz standard “Blue Monk, giving Foster and Jones free rein to show off their talents. As for Dave Grusin's part, the pianist explains "I wasn't trying to imitate Monk; I was trying not to distort him.” And no one can deny he has tread this fine ground in the most pleasing way.
Dave Grusin never did another album anything like this. More's the pity, he's so clearly in his element. The second regret one may have is that his willingness to share center stage in true jazzman's style means there's just not enough piano here, but every note is one to savor.
“Kaleidoscope” has fortunately led several lives after its initial release in 1964, including the 1979 LP on Sony. It has also been reincarnated on CD - by Legacy, Sony and Columbia in 1997, and most recently in 2001 by Collectables. A great chance to hear the consummate Grusin digitally remastered.
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Go to: "Discovered Again"
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