Friday Favorites 9/21/2012

One night last week, my movie-to-blog-by was The Firm.  The Tom Cruise led production of John Grisham’s best selling novel is nowhere near my list of favorite films but it meets my criterion for blogging background: good enough that it doesn’t annoy me and not so good it distracts me completely.  Part way through, I noticed a familiar melody in the mostly piano soundtrack which until that point had behaved like any good soundtrack, supporting the action without overwhelming it.  With a little effort, I remembered that the particular melody was The Memphis Stomp and that The Firm’s soundtrack was written by Dave Grusin.  Who, you say?  Dave Grusin.   You may not have heard his name but I can almost guarantee you’ve heard his music.

I first heard of Grusin twenty years ago during my two years of piano lessons.  My super-patient piano teacher, Richard, taught me easy-piano by transcribing mostly popular pieces of my choice into a few basic keys.  This particular week, I didn’t have anything in mind, so Richard scribbled the notes and chords for On Golden Pond into my music book.  This is by Dave Grusin, he said.  My favorite pianist.  Have you heard of him?  I hadn’t but the next week, I bought his album, Migration, featuring several songs from his Academy Award winning soundtrack for the Milagro Beanfield War … and I was hooked.  If you’re not a jazz fan, you’ve most likely heard his music via soundtracks that he’s composed for films like The Firm, The Graduate, On Golden Pond and Tootsie or perhaps via the themes he composed for the TV shows like St. Elsewhere.  In addition to his Academy award, he’s won 12 Grammys as a composer and as an arranger has worked with many names you’d know instantly: Billy Joel, James Taylor and Quincy Jones.  For the last twelve years, he’s concentrated on jazz and classical compositions and performing with other iconic artists like guitarist Lee Ritenoir.

There is so much Dave Grusin music in so many genres and styles, it’s hard to pick just a few to share with you.  But I love him most as a pianist playing is own compositions.  I consider him the most elegant of pianists and that shows best when he plays his more contemplative compositions.  This is his 8performance of the theme from On Golden Pond accompanied by beautiful scenes from Imperial Beach, CA that I discovered on YouTube:

My second choice is the theme from the film, Random Hearts, from the album, Now Playing: Movies Themes – Solo Piano.

Just close your eyes and listen.  And have a wonderful weekend.

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