Dave Grusin (p), Milt Hinton (b), Osie Johnson (d), plus String Orchestra
Reference: BMCD 868
Bar code: 8427328008686
· Collectors Edition
· Issued in Digipack
· Original Cover Art and Liner Notes
· Stereo Recordings
· Newly Remastered in 24-Bit
One of the reasons for the success of this 1962 album is the excellence of Dave Grusins arrangements for eleven violins, two violas, two cellos, bass and drums. While making this album, Dave says, I saw no reason why nice harmonic changes could not be played by strings. I saw no reason why the string writing could not be a little more complicated than it usually is for albums of this type. And with the freedom Bob [Robert Mersey, the albums producer] gave me, I wrote and played exactly what I wanted. Mersey observes that with Daves arrangements, the strings simply become an extension of the piano. In this album Grusin showed that he has a deft, sensitive touch, inventiveness and exceptionally good taste.
I’d never properly appreciated Dave Grusin, indeed had somewhat dismissed him as a competent writer of film and television cues, until Gerry Mulligan, during a live radio interview, pounced on a chance remark to that effect and fixed me with the Mulligan look and addressed me as “Young man”. The upshot of what followed was that I should pay more attention to America’s finest arranger and arrange for myself to enjoy a “warm bath of overtones” at the earliest opportunity.
Even more than Billy Byers or Ralph Burns (the arrangers Grusin himself admires most) he knows how to make strings work in a jazz context, which is to say, as part of the group rather than a set of harmonic curtains in the background. The integration of trio and strings is extraordinary, and not just in the sense that the orchestral score closely matches the piano part; Osie Johnson’s drums are absolutely part of the mix, virtuosically mixed on The Party’s Over, beautifully textured elsewhere.
This was Grusin’s second album as a leader, after (I think) Subways Are For Sleeping. Not enough of his own writing, though Sara Jane for his lady love shows his quality as a melodist. I still love his soundtrack music for Three Days Of The Condor and the mid-90s Orchestral Album, but this early one is a minor classic and a perfect specific for those who come out in rashes when strings are in the mix.
Brian Morton, Jazz Journal (February 2016)