"His musicianship is as great, as fine, as keen as ever from that first time I played with him when I was 18.”
-- Lee Ritenour, November 2000
For his work in each of the first years of the new century, Dave Grusin was nominated for one of the three major entertainment awards. Were this any valid measurement of achievement, it would have been an impressive start to the decade. However, in terms of genuine artistic success, the product spoke for itself.
With 40 years of accomplishment in so many fields behind him, Dave Grusin sailed into the new century in spectacular style with what could easily be considered one of his finest efforts to date.
As evidenced by the choice recordings he offered in the nineties, he had arrived at a stage in his career where he could pick and choose what kind of projects he wanted to be involved in, and to work at a pace where quality took precedence over commercial considerations.
The first result of this artistic freedom in 2000 was the classical collection “Two Worlds” with Lee Ritenour. Many months went into its preparation, and the investment of time and care is more than apparent in the exquisite arrangements and transcriptions of a variety of pieces from the classical and folk repertoire, as well as original compositions by the headline artists themselves.
Promotion of this slightly jazz flavored album included a very special treat, meaning that a concert appearance by Dave Grusin was available 24 hours a day on the Internet. The 40-minute program of items from “Two Worlds,” recorded at a launch party , went out live on the World Wide Web, and remained available to enjoy for more than half a year.
Grammy-nominated “Two Worlds” further marked the beginning of a new collaboration, that with the breathtaking soprano Renee Fleming, for whom Dave Grusin has done arrangements for concert and recital tours. He also appeared as the great diva's guest on her intimate television show “Live from the Lincoln Center Penthouse” in January 2001. The hope is that there will be more to come from the partnership as the decade progresses.
Following the intensive effort that produced “Two Worlds,” Dave Grusin spent some while picking up awards, including the prestigious Golden Score from the American Society of Musicians Composers and Arrangers as well as another from the Santa Fe Film Festival.
In 2001 he resumed film scoring after a two-year break, namely to create the music (and soundtrack album) for the HBO feature “Dinner With Friends,” one of his most melodic and reflective works. The tasty score received a great deal of critical recognition, including an Emmy nomination.
He also participated in Lee Ritenour's tribute to the King of Reggae, “A Twist of Marley.” And to be thoroughly eclectic, further composed and conducted an original work for the University of Colorado's 125th anniversary, the “Chorale for Open Space,” a musical work citing the destruction of peace in the environment surrounding his Alma Mater (where he sits on the College of Music Advisory Board).
Dave Grusin's critically acclaimed conducting and string arrangements for James Taylor's August 2002 release “October Road” was just one of the factors which made the CD a platinum disc from the word go.
In February 2003 he then put another Grammy Award into the trophy collection, this one for his arrangement of “Mean Old Man” from the aforementioned album.
2004 saw the appearance of Dave Grusin's first solo piano album for four decades. Combining his artistry at the keyboard with his film scoring genius made the release of the “Now Playing” CD on July 13, 2004 a red letter day in the pianist's chronology. Additionally, he was featured on Don Grusin's CD/DVD “The Hang” which also came out in 2004. At the end of the year, the Sally Stevens/Dave Grusin song "Who Comes This Night, released on James Taylor's Christmas album for Hallmark, stirred up as big a storm as any of his main title
In 2005 they followed this up with “Some Children See Him,” a song Dave Grusin had also arranged for Andy Williams in the 60s, and the second James Taylor Christmas offering was no less well received by critics and fans alike. The year also saw Film Score Monthly bring out a limited edition of music from “The Yakuza,” followed in 2006 by Varese Sarabande's release of the “Lucas” soundtrack on CD. In addition to these this retrospective film music, fans were greeted in June with “The Best of Dave Grusin,” a tasty compilation of some of his finest recordings.
Then, after so many years with such meagre pickings, 2008 brought a new album with Lee Ritenour entitled “Ampro,” answer to the prayers of fans who were hoping for more after their “Two Worlds” CD.
LISTEN & BUY!
the first new album in eight years, as well as a new film score for the HBO production Recount. Not only that, Varese Sarabande released Dave Grusin's only television album, “The Girl from UNCLE” on CD in November. For those who have been longing to play the great tunes from The Fabulous Baker Boys, dreams come true at www.adambiggs.co.uk where a songbook of transcriptions is also now available.
Conducting the "Chorale
for Open Space"
While he does continue to give occasional live performances at the piano (as well as participating in various public forums such as the University of Colorado's annual World Affairs Conference and Santa Fe Film Festival), these days, most fans must be content with merely replaying albums and films for a fix of Dave Grusin genius.
In the nineties he stated that his goal would be more and more to `write for himself.' While this might include such works as the Chorale, it may be that this means fewer and fewer of his compositions will be recorded. The term `retirement' might be invoked; however, with the meaning not to cease working, but to once again withdraw from the limelight. It is our sincere wish that the public will at least be treated to a few crumbs from the private banquet as in 2008.
Go to: Feature - Dave Grusin at the Piano
for above image:
6 - Derek Nash