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Looking to other top keyboard artists is not just a matter of listening pleasure or making records.  

While one might assume film scorer and conductor Dave Grusin would automatically be the man at the keyboard on soundtracks, this has not always been the case.  In fact, he revealed in 1979 “if it's a straight score without any jazz or fusion elements involved,” he chose not to play, but preferred “to conduct and make sure that I have some good players there.”

On the other hand, he would frequently play If the style was one he found particularly attractive. Especially when the score was in a rhythm section situation (a la "Three Days of the Condor"), he liked to run the track session from the keyboard.”

For another thing, rather than soloing, Dave Grusin has favored a blend of keyboards on his film scores, feeling “they're a very important color instrument for me."  He would usually try to get a number of players to make a combination of keyboard parts, "rather than just having one sound sticking out.”

Using the piano as part of writing a score usually means the instrument is put into action for checking ideas, rather than composing.

The 1980s marked a definite shift for the pianist in terms of playing on film soundtracks.  The movie which precipitated his change of thinking on the subject was “On Golden Pond.”  He explains that it was something new for him, and “a pivotal point in rationalizing  using my own instrument on a score in terms of that amount of piano.”

Fortunately, more than  half his film composing career was yet to come, and an ever-increasing amount of his sensitive playing has graced motion pictures which followed, such as the shimmering example on his most recent theatrical release, “Random Hearts.”  Not to mention the innovative solo effort on "The Firm."

Go to:  Film Composer Dave Grusin     


Photo Credits
1 - Tommy Biondo
2 - Derek Nash



















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Profiles of Musician Dave Grusin