Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Various Artists: GRP 30

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen officially launched GRP in 1982, applying high standards for audio production to recordings featuring jazz masters (Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan) as well as fast-rising newcomers. The label made an enormous impact on the smooth-jazz format, for a time dominating Billboard‘s Contemporary Jazz chart and developing a reputation for music often criticized as being overproduced, cluttered with synths and drum programming, and seemingly contrived strictly for commercial success.

That rep was partially justifiable, as demonstrated by several tracks on GRP 30, which arrives a decade after another celebratory two-disc GRP set, The Best Smooth Jazz Ever. In retrospect, though, the range of high-caliber artists and impressive sessions facilitated by the label is impressive. Naysayers might be pointed to such tracks as flutist Dave Valentin’s effusive version of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” done with a 4/4 Latin twist and driven hard by bassist Lincoln Goines, drummer Robert Ameen and percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo. Then there’s Kevin Eubanks’ hard-swinging “Opening Night,” the guitarist and tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis sharing the speedy, swirling head, and vibraphonist Gary Burton’s “Reunion,” a tonal gem, with guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist and keyboardist Mitchel Forman, Will Lee on bass and Peter Erskine on drums.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published