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The Digital Master Company Turns 30: GRP Records Celebrated with New Compilation

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Though the 50th anniversary of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records got some well-deserved attention earlier this year, another unit of Universal Music Group was also celebrating a milestone anniversary.  GRP Records, founded by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, was founded in 1978, as an imprint of Arista Records known as “Arista/GRP.”  This arrangement was similar to Creed Taylor’s CTI label, which first existed as part of A&M.  Much as Taylor struck out on his own, so did Grusin and Rosen, and in 1982, GRP went independent.  That’s the date chosen by Verve Music Group as the true birth of GRP, and the starting point for GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary, a 2-CD, 30-track overview compiled by Grusin, Rosen and Richard Havers.

By 1978, keyboardist/composer Dave Grusin was already an established figure in the worlds of film scoring (The Graduate, Three Days of the Condor) and jazz.  Larry Rosen was a musician, too, starting his career as a drummer.  In the early 1960s, the two men became acquainted as members of Andy Williams’ band – Grusin as pianist and conductor, Rosen as drummer.  When Rosen was producing 1972’s Rashida for artist Jon Lucien, he called upon Grusin as an arranger.  Soon after, the two began a production partnership that encompassed recordings on various labels, from artists as diverse as Earl Klugh and Patti Austin.  It was only natural, then, that Grusin and Rosen would spread their wings and fly solo.  After the success of Arista/GRP, the next logical step was to go independent.  GRP took inspiration from jazz labels like CTI and ECM, and got attention early as “The Digital Master Company.”  Grusin and Rosen both took a keen interest in digital recording and compact disc technology, and GRP was at the vanguard of the CD’s initial launch.  The GRP roster included Grusin himself as bandleader, plus his brother Don, Lee Ritenour, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Diane Schuur, Patti Austin, The Brecker Brothers and many others.  The label took on projects from legends of the jazz genre like Dizzy Gillespie and Gerry Mulligan, and in its later years, discovered the young Diana Krall.

In 1987, GRP entered into a distribution deal with MCA Records, and in 1990, MCA (later Universal Music Group) purchased GRP from Grusin and Rosen.  The label was soon renamed MCA-GRP and took over control of many of MCA’s classic jazz holdings including records from the Impulse! and Decca catalogues.  Grusin and Rosen departed GRP in 1995, with noted producer Tommy LiPuma taking the reins from them.  GRP was later absorbed into Verve, where the imprint resides today.

What will you find on GRP 30?  Hit the jump for more, including a full track listing and pre-order link!

GRP 30 is non-chronologically sequenced, and bookended with two Dave Grusin performances: his own “Serengeti Walk” with his NY-LA Dream Band (1983) and George and Ira Gershwin’s “How Long Has This Been Going On?” (1991). In between, you’ll find songs both familiar and lesser-known, and from both instrumentalists and vocalists.  Among the numerous highlights: Diane Schuur is represented singing “I Just Found Out About Love” with the Count Basie Orchestra, from 1987; the GRP All-Star Big Band tackles John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” (1993); Ramsey Lewis plays Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s “People Make the World Go ‘Round” (1992); and B.B. King revisits “The Thrill is Gone” (1991).  The legendary Gillespie and Mulligan are, of course, featured, along with George Benson, Tom Scott, Gary Burton, Patti Austin, The Brecker Brothers, Larry Carlton, Spyro Gyra and more.  Though GRP became known for its “smooth jazz” roster, this 2-CD anthology aims to showcase the diversity of the label’s jazz offerings.

GRP 30 has been remastered by Kevin Reeves, and Richard Havers supplies a new essay.  Larry Rosen also contributes a brief note.  The 2-CD compendium of GRP’s best is housed in a jewel case, and is available now at the link below and in retail stores!

Various Artists, GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary (GRP/Verve B0017297-02, 2012)

CD 1

  1. Serengeti Walk – Dave Grusin and the NY-LA Dream Band
  2. Footprints (Live) – Dave Valentin
  3. I Just Found Out About Love – Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra
  4. King of the Lobby – The Brecker Brothers
  5. Kid Gloves – Larry Carlton
  6. Cotton Tail – New York Voices
  7. Kei’s Song – David Benoit
  8. Opening Night – Kevin Eubanks
  9. People Make the World Go ‘Round – Ramsey Lewis
  10. Reunion – Gary Burton
  11. Makossa Beat – Don Grusin
  12. Tower of Inspiration – Dave Weckl
  13. She Likes to Watch – The Rippingtons
  14. A Mis Abuelos – Arturo Sandoval
  15. Cruise Control – George Benson

CD 2

  1. Blue Train – The GRP All-Star Big Band
  2. Every Mornin’ – Dizzy Gillespie
  3. Move – Gerry Mulligan
  4. The Thrill is Gone – B.B. King
  5. Escher Sketch (A Tale of Two Rhythms) – Michael Brecker
  6. Waltz for Isabel – Spyro Gyra
  7. Sandstone – The Yellowjackets
  8. Blackwood – Eddie Daniels
  9. Early A.M. Attitude – Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin
  10. Jamaica Heartbeat – Acoustic Alchemy
  11. On the Corner – John Patitucci
  12. Steepian Faith – Kenny Kirkland
  13. Free Hand – Tom Scott
  14. First Time Love – Patti Austin
  15. How Long Has This Been Going On? – Dave Grusin

CD 1, Track 1 from Dave Grusin and the NY-LA Dream Band, 1983
CD 1, Track 2 from Live at the Blue Note, 1988
CD 1, Track 3 from Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra, 1987
CD 1, Track 4 from Return of the Brecker Brothers, 1992
CD 1, Track 5 from Kid Gloves, 1992
CD 1, Track 6 from Hearts of Fire, 1991
CD 1, Track 7 from Freedom at Midnight, 1987
CD 1, Track 8 from Opening Night, 1985
CD 1, Track 9 from Ivory Pyramid, 1992
CD 1, Track 10 from Reunion, 1990
CD 1, Track 11 from No Borders, 1992
CD 1, Track 12 from Master Plan, 1990
CD 1, Track 13 from Moonlighting, 1986
CD 1, Track 14 from Danzon (Dance On), 1994
CD 1, Track 15 from Standing Together, 1998
CD 2, Track 1 from Dave Grusin Presents GRP All-Star Big Band LIVE!, 1993
CD 2, Track 2 from New Faces, 1984
CD 2, Track 3 from Re-Birth of the Cool, 1992
CD 2, Track 4 from Live at the Apollo, 1991
CD 2, Track 5 from Now You See It, Now You Don’t, 1990
CD 2, Track 6 from Dreams Beyond Control, 1993
CD 2, Track 7 from Like a River, 1993
CD 2, Track 8 from Blackwood, 1989
CD 2, Track 9 from Harlequin, 1995
CD 2, Track 10 from Back on the Case, 1991
CD 2, Track 11 from On the Corner, 1989
CD 2, Track 12 from Kenny Kirkland, 1991
CD 2, Track 13 from Born Again, 1992
CD 2, Track 14 from Love is Gonna Getcha, 1990
CD 2, Track 15 from The Gershwin Connection, 1991

All albums released on GRP label.

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2012 at 13:11

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