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Dave Grusin’s “Dry White Season” Revisited

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With a cast including Donald Sutherland, Susan Sarandon and Marlon Brando in one of his final film triumphs, 1989’s A Dry White Season had the potential to be an instant classic. Yet despite this star-studded assemblage, strong reviews and an impressive pedigree (it was based on Andre Brinks’ powerful novel which was banned in South Africa for challenging apartheid), audiences stayed away, and A Dry White Season vanished from theatres. Still, Brando was recognized with a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards, and the film gained a following over the years through cable airings and home video releases.

The Kritzerland label this morning announced its latest release, illuminating another aspect of the film’s legend: its stirring score by the versatile Dave Grusin. An Academy Award winner for The Milagro Beanfield War and multiple nominee, Grusin has never been pigeonholed in one style, and his soundtrack for A Dry White Season is among his most moving work. Fans of Grusin’s dynamic score to The Goonies, itself the recent recipient of a deluxe reissue from Varese, are urged to explore this amazing, overlooked score.

Produced by Bruce Kimmel, Kritzerland’s release contains 15 core tracks and four bonuses, including alternate takes and source music cues. As the score was heavily truncated in the film’s final edit, this CD presentation presents the cues as written and recorded. It is limited to 1000 copies and retails for $19.98, and can be pre-ordered hereA Dry White Season is due the last week of February, but pre-orders usually ship an average of four weeks early. Hit the jump for the full press release and track listing with sound samples!
“Made in 1989, A Dry White Season, a searing indictment of South Africa under apartheid, was a superb, riveting film that audiences simply did not want to see, despite excellent reviews. Perhaps it was because South Africa was still in the final throes of apartheid and the film was just too uncomfortable to watch. Sometimes people need distance and one suspects that if the film had come out even a decade later it would have probably been more successful. As it is, over the years people have discovered it and been truly affected by its portrayal of racial turmoil in a country divided and the way the film was able to put the politics of apartheid in meaningful human terms.

Set in 1976 around the time of the Soweto riots, the film was adapted from a novel by Andre Brink (the only book in Afrikaans to be banned in South Africa), and directed by Euzhan Palcy, who was the first black female director ever hired to direct a major studio film (MGM). Palcy had made the critically acclaimed feature Sugar Cane Alley, which was highly thought of by critics, audiences, and other filmmakers. She co-wrote A Dry White Season with Colin Welland. The film was shot on a fairly tight budget of nine million dollars, an amazing figure when you consider the cast involved – Donald Sutherland (giving the performance of his career), Janet Suzman, Susan Sarandon, and, coming out of retirement because he was so moved by the project, Marlon Brando, who worked for scale. The supporting performances are equally stellar, including Zakes Mokae, Winston Ntshona and Jurgen Prochnow. Marlon Brando is unforgettable as the attorney – he has only two scenes but gives a brilliant performance for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (the film’s only nomination). Thanks to DVD and cable, new audiences have been able to discover this important and terrific film. Its reputation keeps growing with each passing year.

Adding immeasurably to the project is Dave Grusin’s score. Grusin proved to be the perfect choice, and in a career filled with great scores (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Heaven Can Wait, Tootsie, The Goonies, On Golden Pond, The Milagro Beanfield War, Three Days Of The Condor, The Goodbye Girl, Murder By Death, and on and on), A Dry White Season is one of his best – moody, haunting, tension-filled, and extremely moving – like the film, it really gets under your skin.

The score as used in the film is quite short. However, some cues went unused, some were truncated, so this CD uses the cues as they were originally written and recorded, which results in a longer playing time and in a more satisfying musical presentation. We’ve included two bonus tracks – alternate versions of two cues and two cues of great Grusin source music.

Dave Grusin is one of those composers who can do everything. And he has – from dramatic film scoring to his great work in television (It Takes a Thief, Maude, Good Times, Baretta, The Name of the Game, Columbo, etc.), to wonderful light comedy scores, as well as his jazz and arranging/conducting projects for such incredible people as Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, Sergio Mendes, Al Jarreau, Patti Austin, Billy Joel and many others. He is a multiple Grammy Award-winner, a multiple Academy Award nominee (he won the Oscar for The Milagro Beanfield War). Now in his mid-70s, he’s still the coolest guy in any room, and he’s still going strong.

This release is limited to 1000 copies only. The price of the CD is $19.98, plus shipping. Additionally, we are offering a special deal with the purchase of this release. Go to the item page and click on the link to find out about it.”

A Dry White Season: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland KR 20017-8, 2011)

  1. Happier Times
  2. Grandfatherly/Demonstrations
  3. Aftermath/Dead Children
  4. He’s My Child/I Never Saw Him/Gordon’s Arrest
  5. Torture
  6. Monsters Win/Funeral Parlor
  7. Wife Waffles/Flashbacks
  8. Gordon Tortured
  9. The Search/Christmas in the Park
  10. Without Slap/Emily’s Beating
  11. Father and Son
  12. Garage Explodes/Ben Knows
  13. Father and Daughter/Stoltz and Suzette
  14. Ben’s Death
  15. Stanley Kills Stoltz
  16. The Search (Alternate)
  17. Source Music 1
  18. Source Music 2
  19. Ben’s Death (Alternate)

Written by Joe Marchese

January 10, 2011 at 15:58

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

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