GRP - GRD-9592
PUNTA DEL SOL (5:31)
SOUTHWEST PASSAGE (5:49)
FIRST-TIME LOVE (4:05)
WESTERN WOMEN (4:38)
DANCING IN THE TOWNSHIP (6:06)
OLD BONES (6:13)
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT (5:52)
T. K. O. (5:47)
SUITE FROM “MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR”:
COYOTE ANGEL (3:29)
Michael Fisher (percussion), Branford Marsalis (percussion), Harvey Mason, Sr. (drums), Omar Hakim (drums), Abraham Laboriel (bass), Marcus Miller (bass), Mike Fisher (tenor & soprano saxophone), Hugh Masekela (flugelhorn), Carlos Rios (guitar), Don Grusin (synthesizer)
Concert Masters: Gerald Vinci
Arranged by Dave Grusin
Produced by Dave Grusin & Larry Rosen
This is a particularly classy session, and as usual, Dave Grusin has gathered together a group of top flight musicians into the studio. But its not just the great tracks which give this album distinctiveness in the Dave Grusin discography.
For one thing, this 1989 record is the last one featuring the composer playing a number of his own tunes. For - outside soundtrack albums - a gap of over a decade ensued before he again recorded something of his own (and, in fact, he has cut only a single new composition in the rest of his career to date) - “Canto Envirno” on “Two Worlds” in 2000.
Just like that. He stopped recording his own music. In 1992 Dave Grusin said he wanted to start writing for himself, and this decision has left a definite void for his many fans. So, “Migration” generally represents the last recorded appearance of Dave Grusin as composer/performer on a jazz album.
There also appears to be a subtle metamorphosis going on here. Perhaps this is only identifiable in retrospect, but a move to his roots in jazz already seems to be emerging on “Migration” - a change in musical direction which only became clear when he began treating the great work of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein in the 90s.
After a series of live-performance and retrospective albums (plus a semi-experimental one with Don Grusin), this is Dave Grusin's first straight-forward recording in four years (since “Harlequin” from 1985).
“Migration” also presents a unique opportunity to hear a suite of five compositions from the Oscar-winning score for “Milagro Beanfield War,” music otherwise inaccessible on record (except for its reprise on "The Orchestral Album"). The score which so aptly quintesizes the New Mexico location of the motion picture, clearly stands alone well, as great film music can do.
Opening track on "Migration," “Punta del Sol,” swings deliciously. It has a bit of the essence of Dave Grusin's earlier composition, “Kaleidoscope,” but could easily stand as an anthem of what smooth jazz is all about. Melodic and floating, but with an insistent and irresistible beat. Hypnotic.
Another Dave Grusin original is “Southwest Passage,” full of fascinating rhythmic patterns, all with a sense of forward movement. “First Time Love” is something different, atmospheric and innocent.
“Western Women” offers a wide range of tempos in its portrayal from bouncy to tender. Featuring Hugh Masekela on flugelhorn, “Dancing in the Township” has the kind of tastiness reminiscent of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass when they ran free. Soulful and abandoned with a Caribbean flavor. “Old Bones” offers more of the fusion sound with nice keyboard work.
Back to the Dave Grusin compositions, “In The Middle of the Night” is a gentle and soft sound which won't wake the house. even though it becomes livelier as it progresses. Very silky indeed.
“T.K.O.” is a party piece for percussion and sax. The kind of sizzling stuff one would associate with an earlier Grusin era, in addition to being a precursor of new directions. But if you're looking for a more romantic blend of awesome jazz, “Polina” is just the thing. Easy, yielding and evocative. And best of all, it's nearly seven minutes of magic.
“Lepita” begins the suite from “Milagro Beanfield War.” It's a pert acoustic piano solo, setting out the film's southwestern location. “Coyote Angel” uses the concertina, played by the angel in the film, to create a fantasy feel which is enhanced when the orchestra chimes in with a dreamy merry-go-round mix. “Pistolero” is etched with Carlos Rios' romantic Spanish guitar in flamenco style. The lovely “Milagro” theme is played by the composer and echoed by strings. There is tremendous pathos and feeling in this tender theme. The suite concludes with “Fiesta,” a fiery piece utilizing many instruments and percussion to evoke a Latin celebration.
All in all, this is an album on which Dave Grusin participates rather than stands out. Everyone shares the limelight and each has his moments to shine without eclipsing the others. An outstanding ensemble recording.
Recorded by Don Murray
Mixed by Don Murray & Dave Grusin
Mastered by Wally Traugott
Photography: Eric Meola, Claudia Thompson