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Archive for July 18th, 2011

Steps In Time: Dave Grusin and Cy Coleman, Meet Dick Van Dyke!

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What Oscar-winning composer let the world know “And Then There’s Maude,” joined Billy Joel on 52nd Street and The Nylon Curtain, and shared the music of The Graduate with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel?  Something’s telling me it might be Dave Grusin.  His score to The Goonies was described as a “holy grail” by this very site back in March 2010 upon the occasion of its first release on the Varese Sarabande label, and it was indeed snapped up near-immediately.  But when it comes to a Grusin collection, The Goonies alone isn’t good enough!  Kritzerland has already lavished the deluxe treatment on his scores to A Dry White Season (1989) and Mulholland Falls (1996), but for the label’s next release, the clock is turning back to the very first score that launched Grusin’s career.  Producer Bruce Kimmel tells The Second Disc, “I’d tried licensing [the 1967 Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin comedy] Divorce, American Style a year ago from MGM.  They did the research and found they did not own it and that the album rights were at Capitol; several UA albums went that route, including the Bond films.  Once I knew that, then it went right on my list there.”  Kimmel’s patience paid off.

Beloved American funnyman Dick Van Dyke headlined Divorce, American Style, describing it in his wonderful recent memoir as a “sprawling, topical comedy.”  Two years earlier, he starred in another big-screen comedy, The Art of Love, with another Norman – this time, director Norman Jewison.  That score was composed by Cy Coleman, the Broadway baby behind Sweet Charity, City of Angels and Little Me.  Kimmel thought of the earlier film, and so the label’s latest two-for-one reissue was born.  Kritzerland’s Divorce, American Style/The Art of Love reissues the original soundtrack albums as heard on United Artists and Capitol, respectively.  Both titles have been freshly remastered, of course, but the producer’s sleuthing at both the movie studio and record label has led to a Divorce that will sound more vibrant than ever.   Kimmel confirms, “MGM did have the four-track masters [to Divorce] in their vaults and they gave them to us to use, which was great.  Capitol only had the two-track album master, which I wasn’t that crazy about because they’d added a ton of reverb, and the natural reverb that was on the four-tracks was much cleaner and much more real.”  So Grusin’s premier score will be presented in sparkling, crisp sound, and with additional material: “Every note of what was on the four-tracks has been used and put where it belongs in the score sequence.” 

And both scores have more than just Dick Van Dyke in common!  When not receiving Oscar nominations for films like Tootsie, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Heaven Can Wait and On Golden Pond, Grusin has had a parallel career as a jazz musician, founding GRP Records along the way.  Coleman, too, came from a jazz background, leading The Cy Coleman Trio and writing such standards as “Witchcraft” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”  So it’s no surprise that both scores have jazz leanings.  Both also owe a bit, in different ways, to Henry Mancini’s style.  Kimmel tells us, quite correctly, that “anyone who only knows Grusin from The Goonies really doesn’t know Grusin.”  He offers, “This is more like the Grusin of Tootsie, only ‘60s hip rather than ‘80s hip.  He was very much in the Mancini mode for Divorce, but it really is uniquely Grusin and surprisingly the film is not a typical comedy score; it’s got some real depth to it and it’s very clever.”  Coleman’s soundtrack LP to The Art of Love followed the established Mancini pattern of actually consisting of cues re-recorded for a pop-oriented audience.  Divorce melodically fuses many disparate musical styles, much like Grusin’s contributions to The Graduate, including jazz, romance, baroque and even a Tijuana Brass-inspired tune.  But there’s also much drama in the scoring, befitting a sophisticated film from Norman Lear’s pen.

Dave Grusin and the late Cy Coleman have long been two of the coolest cats in music, and this may indeed be the coolest soundtrack of the year!  Both scores are making their first-ever appearance on CD.  Divorce is a touchstone for Grusin’s career, while Broadway great Coleman’s film work (also including Father Goose, The Troublemaker and The Heartbreak Kid) has been terribly under-represented on disc.  You can bring this exciting pairing (a limited edition of 1,000) home by the last week of August for the price of $19.98 plus shipping, but pre-orders from the label usually ship one to five weeks earlier. 

Hit the jump for the complete press release, plus the track listing and pre-order link, where you can hear sound samples! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2011 at 10:33