An Evening with Dave Grusin, Blu-ray (2011)

by | Apr 25, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

An Evening with Dave Grusin, Blu-ray (2011)

Performers: Grusin at the piano and conducting the 75-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, with guests Jon Secada, Patti Austin, Monica Mancini, Gary Burton, Arturo Sandoval, Nestor Torres, Sammy Figueroa, U. of Miami Frost School of Music Singers
Program:  Fratelli Chase, Cool, Maria, Makin’ Whoopee, I Feel Pretty, Best You Is My Woman Now & I Loves You Porgy, It Might Be You, On Golden Pond/Hornpipe Medley, Somewhere, Moon River, America, Memphis Stomp
Studio: Jazz Roots/ Heads Up/Concord Music HUI-32928-09 [4/26/11]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 5.1, DD 2.0, PCM 2.0
Subtitles: None
Extras: Featurettes – The Genius of Grusin, The Red Light Players, Official trailer, iPad App version overview
Length: 62 minutes
Rating: ****½

A slickly-arranged, performed, videotaped and packaged production from the longtime partnership of Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, who formerly operated GRP Records. The event took place last year at the University of Miami and the program includes some of Grusin’s own film score music as well as his exciting arrangements of the music of George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. There are in fact five selections from Bernstein’s famed West Side Story, ending with a slam-bang collaboration of most of the performers on ”America.”

Patti Austin and Jon Secada make a fine pair in their duet on “Somewhere” from West Side Story, and being a fan of jazz flute I especially dug Nestor Torres’ soloing on Bernstein’s “I Feel Pretty.”  Vibist Gary Burton is plenty cool on “Cool” from West Side Story, though his vibes sounded a bit muffled to me. The music from On Golden Pond is accompanied by some landscapes from the feature film. This is the first recording to be released in four different formats simultaneously: this Blu-ray, a standard DVD, a Heads Up compact disc of just the music, and an iPad App chock full of material not included on the Blu-ray.

It’s obvious a great deal of work went into setting up the orchestra and other performers for the best possible appearance in the video.  It seems somewhat brief for such a spectacular production, but everything here is brilliantly done.  All the lights, mike stands and other shiny things that might be distracting are covered in black paper or fabric. The stage lighting of the orchestra is mostly diffuse red and blue lights, which sometimes compromises images a bit. But in general they are sharp, and with generous use of closeups. The black levels are good and solid and with the excellent choices of four different options of soundtrack delivery, make for a fine Blu-ray concert video. This is evidently Concord Music’s first Blu-ray effort and they can be proud of it.

However, I do have a gripe about the video. While Grusin is an exceptional performer, composer and arranger, the two featurettes are just a bit over the top in their strings of various people praising him to the skies.  One person even states that GRP had been the most important jazz label. And more than that was the frustration of several sudden interruptions of the actual concert by promotional stuff about the production and Grusin himself. I at first thought I had accidentally pushed the wrong button on my universal remote and was back in the extras instead of watching the actual concert. Top audio producer Phil Ramone worked on this production, and he himself states in one of the extras that they tried in the production to turn off all distractions. But these inserts breaking into the concert are a serious distraction!

 — John Sunier

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