Veteran composer and pianist Dave Grusin has won 10 Grammys, but he’s also that rare musician who’s earned an Academy Award- a statue for his score to 1988’s Robert Redford-directed The Milagro Beanfield War. An 11-minute medley from that movie is featured on An Evening With Dave Grusin, recorded live in Miami and featuring the 75-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. With a full, lush sound and several guest vocalists, it’s a nice bookend to Grusin’s 2004 CD, Now Playing: Movie Themes-Solo Piano. The new CD is a heartfelt legacy project for the 77-year-old.
Forgoing the easy route-a disc featuring new recordings of his classics-Grusin instead mixes his original material with songs by a few legends who upstage even his own star-filled career, including Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Henry Mancini. The highlights are many, starting with Patti Austin on “Makin’ Whoopee” and Monica Mancini on her dad’s “Moon River.” Other guest performers include vocalist Jon Secada (“Maria”), master vibraphonist Gary Burton (“Cool,” “Peter Gunn”) and flutist Nestor Torres (“I Feel Pretty”).
The project, released simultaneously on CD, Blu-ray and iPad, is part of Jazz Roots: A Larry Rosen Jazz Series, a concert and educational program created for performing arts centers across the U.S.