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Dave Gruisin: Two for the Road

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Two for the Road is a tribute to the late great Henry Mancini. In the liner notes Gruisin writes when young he listened to Mancini’s music and was thus inspired to pursue a career writing film scores. It’s easy to see how an aspiring musician might be taken by Mancini; his compositions are rich harmonically and in spirit. Gruisin captures that essence while putting his own stamp on the material. He plays up the sassiness of “Peter Gunn” by using a punchy brass section and doing barrelhouse riffs on the piano. “Baby Elephant Walk” gets a New Orleans blues rendering. The elegance of Mancini’s glistening orchestral arrangements is accented in “Moment to Moment.” Guest vocalist Diana Krall chimes in with a sultry rendering of “Dreamsville” and then gets melancholy for “A Soldier in the Rain.” Mancini was a sophisticated romantic who wrote music imbued with warmth and endearment. Gruisin’s tribute, while not imitative, proves him on the same wavelength.