The Dave Grusin Archive
Recordings
Piano Strings and Moonlight




EPIC -  LN 24023

TRACKS

Side One

LOVE IS HERE TO STAY  (3:03)
FLY ME TO THE MOON  (2:44)
MY FUNNY VALENTINE  (3:38)
WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE  (2:12)
THE MORE I SEE YOU  (4:01)
AUTUMN LEAVES  (2:57)

Side Two

WHAT IS THERE TO SAY  (3:47)
SARA JANE  (4:10)  
THE PARTY'S OVER  (2:47)
HERE'S THAT RAINY DAY  (3:28)
YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS  (2:40)
WHEN YOUR LOVER HAS GONE  (2:10)

Arranged by
Dave Grusin & Robert Mersey

Produced by
Robert Mersey

For those who gravitate towards Dave Grusin's sensitive, romantic side (more evident in his film scores than his jazz recordings), this is THE album, filled with stylish versions of the kind of standards fans finally had a chance to experience in tempting tastes when he began his `tribute' recordings in the 1990s.

Drawing on the influences of Bill Evans, Art Tatum and Red Garland, and enhanced by strings, it is definitely the piano which emotes here, with a depth of feeling that belies the youth of the performer/arranger.

Although “Piano Strings and Moonlight” (dubbed by the pianist as a name “chosen by committee”) is subtitled “The Many Moods of Dave Grusin,” the predominant one is tender, even when things begin to swing a bit.  

Most of the entries are well-known, but there are two exceptions, First, we have I. E.  Harburg's “What Is There To Say” which could easily make one go back to the label to check the composer, it is so Grusinish in its feel.  

But the ultimate gem here is the single Dave Grusin original composition on this album,”Sara Jane.” The sultry, subtle and complex personality of this song is developed through repeated explorations of the basic haunting melody.

But everything on this album is something to savor.  Each track radiates warmth and cool.

It opens with “Our Love is Here to Stay,” given a soft,then upbeat treatment. Check out the pianist's 1991 version on “The Gershwin Connection” to hear another admiring and respectful look at this lilting song.

“Fly Me to the Moon” receives a rather baroque rendering, with the piano setting a more energetic rhythm against the strings. It was also released as a single.


In terms of arrangement, the most interesting and intricate cut is “My Funny Valentine,” which is moody, deep and soulful, offering something original and special to a song which it would appear has had everything possible done with (to?) it.  This is another piece for which there is a comparison - the Grammy winning final track on “The Fabulous Baker Boys” (with the Michele Pfeiffer vocal).

A tune usually done with a sense of melancholy, “What is this Thing Called Love?” is allowed no time for tears on the Grusin version.  Even the strings concede, this is finger-snapping stuff.

He returns to a serious frame of mind with a slow and gentle “The More I See You.”  It's a reflective late-night sound, executed with thoughtfulness and feeling.  

Side One closes with “Autumn Leaves,” lending the sensation of something played in a Paris bistro.  The string section continues to carry the melody, allowing for a loose and fluid styling by the piano.

Side two begins with the two Grusinesque pieces (“What is There to Say” and “Sara Jane”), the first totally delicious with that fascinating `think piece' quality his best slower tunes exude.

Romance and a contemplative approach.  This is the matchless combination which makes this interpretation of the Harburg song so alluring.  Worth the purchase of the album at scalper prices.

The introduction to “Sara Jane” is provided by the strings, redolent  with romance and tenderness.  Then they step back as Dave Grusin very slowly eases into the song.  Totally sensuous, even profound, until he starts to swing the melody (with the strings begging to play it sweet and straight).  He refuses to oblige, taking it through numerous variations, until giving way and returning to the smoldering approach, only to break out and toy with it once more, ending on a compromise note.

As this LP is a rarity, one must profusely thank Ramsey Lewis for his wonderful and faithful recording of this early Dave Grusin composition - gloriously available on CD.

“The Party's Over” starts with a very straight-forward and sober version of the melody, and then both strings and piano launch into a lively romp that say's the party's not over, but just beginning.

With aid of the strings “Here's That Rainy Day” is played with all the sorrow and disappointment of lost love.  There are a few smiles during the performance, if rueful ones, but the sentiment of the song is maintained throughout, with an emphasized puzzlement implied in the final line `funny, that rainy day is here.'

The regretful atmosphere becomes even more concentrated with “You Don't Know What Love is.”  Bluesy, even when the tempo moves up, the sense of loss and longing is superbly maintained by Dave Grusin's emotive touch on the keys.

The track listing would indicate that the setting is continued with “When Your Lover Has Gone.” However, Dave Grusin plays this one, not as a lament, but with the sense of freedom and release after breaking up after a bad thing.  Animated from the first chord, it closes the album on a very buoyant note.

It is interesting to note that when this LP was brought out on CD, the track order was changed completely, namely:

Autumn Leaves
Sara Jane
The Party's Over
The More I See You
Here's That Rainy Day
You Don't Know What Love Is
When Your Lover Has Gone
What Is There To Say?
Our Love Is Here To Stay
Fly Me To The Moon
My Funny Valentine
What Is This Thing Called Love?

What ever the esoteric reason for the reordering of the song list, it doesn't obviously emerge.

Epic, a subsidiary of Columbia, promoted this record with a greater push than Dave Grusin's first LP, the tasty “Subways Are For Sleeping,” issuing tracks from it on single and distributing it to juke boxes.

It's nothing less than a find in a treasure chest.


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