Saturday, April 23, 2016

GRP - 1992 "All-Star Big Band"

The GRP Band was a group compiled in the late 1980s under the direction of Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, principles of GRP Records. The band was a full band, and they mostly played well-known jazz pieces from the 1950s and 1960s written by famous musicians and composers. Many of these pieces were rearranged presenting a character of their own.

GRP is best known as a label specializing in slick and accessible jazz, but, in 1992, labelheads Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen decided to put together a conventional but star-studded big band comprised of their company's top players. The recordings featured such musicians as Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Chuck Findley, Dave Grusin, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Dave Valentin, John Patitucci, and even Tom Scott, Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell, and Lee Ritenour playing straightahead charts of jazz standards from the 1950s and '60s. The recordings actually offer few surprises (other than the fact that Scott and company still remember how to play bop), but are enjoyable outings.

Lee Ritenour, Tom Scott, Randy Brecker and other big names from Dave Grushin's jazz label gather for a one-day, en masse blow-out. The repertoire includes be-bop, post-bop and contemporary standards, with Coltrane's "Blue Train" and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" highlighting a disc that's markedly more spirited than the GRP norm.

Wow! I first heard this album ten years ago while a fledgling jazz musician in high school. This album went on to become the best of my collection - I even spun it so many times in my player that I had to buy another copy of it. What makes this album so amazing is not neccessarily the setlist, but the musicians! GRP assembled some of their great label performers and got them together for this project (with a few more to follow). All of the musicians are incredible, but you'll notice some standout performances from Eric Marienthal (Alto Sax), Arturo Sandoval (Trumpet), Randy Brecker (Trumpet), and Bob Mintzer (Tenor Sax). I read somewhere that music is the closest thing to magic there is, and after listening to this album, you'll see why.
"Airegin" sets the stage nicely, followed by a perfect rendition of Coltrane's "Blue Train", with the best 24 bar blues solo I've ever heard from Bob Mintzer on Tenor Sax. "Donna Lee" features some blistering solo work by Nelson Rangell, Gary Burton, and Eddie Daniels. "Maiden Voyage" is easy and laid back, leading right up to one of the true gems of this album, "Sister Sadie", a crowd-pleaser if ever there was one. Marienthal's amazing Sax work still knocks me back every time I hear it! Up next is "The Sidewinder", and this is an excellent arrangement that Randy Brecker lights up on Trumpet. The next three tunes take it down a notch - "Seven Steps to Heaven" features a great (and rare)Marienthal Tenor Sax solo, and "I Remember Clifford" stands out as the album's premeire ballad. Sandoval is inhumanly good as always, and leads right up to an amazing climax! "Footprints" follows, featuring some great jazz guitar by Lee Ritenour. The last great showstopper of the album is next - Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca". Across the board amazing performances by the ensemble, featuring Dave Valentin (Flute), killer Piano by the Killer Kenny Kirkland, and the ultimate Trumpet battle royale by Sandoval and Brecker! The album is rounded out with more great work on Sax by Ernie Watts on " 'Round Midnight", and closes with a smooth version of Chick Corea's "Spain".
I have a very diverse music collection, and I'm proud to seat this album up at the top with other masterpieces of rock, jazz and classical music. I challenge you to listen to this CD and try- just try not to enjoy it. I dare you!

This album is an absolute must-have for everybody, who likes jazz, because, after you will listen to it, it will make you not just like jazz, but LOVE jazz and become devoted to it. I've had this CD for a couple of years by now, but still I keep listening to it at least five days a week. It's just gorgeous. My favorites are The Sidewinder, Sister Sadie and Blue Train. If you buy this one, you'll never regret it. Guaranteed.

When this CD was released, it was a major surprise. GRP is a label whose initial reputation was made on pop-ish jazz. However, co-founders Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen always had a love for the sound of big bands and for hard bop. For this set, they gathered together some of the most notable players on their label to play 12 jazz standards dating from the mid-'40s ("Donna Lee") up to the early '70s ("Spain"). The lineup of musicians is quite impressive, comprised of trumpeters Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, and Sal Marquez; trombonist George Bohanon (who had to be imported since GRP did not have any trombonists); a reed section of Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell, Bob Mintzer, Ernie Watts and Tom Scott; bassist John Patitucci; drummer Dave Weckl; and several alternating pianists (Grusin, Russell Ferrante, Kenny Kirkland, and David Benoit), plus such guests as guitarist Lee Ritenour, flutist Dave Valentine, vibraphonist Gary Burton, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, and percussionist Alex Acuna. On the strictly straight-ahead set, which has such tunes as "Blue Train," "Sister Sadie," "The Sidewinder," and "Manteca," all of the musicians are featured adequately. It is a particular revelation hearing Marienthal and Rangell sound passable in this setting. Easily recommended to hard bop and big band collectors.

Track listing:

  01 - Airegin
  02 - Blue Train
  03 - Donna Lee
  04 - Maiden Voyage
  05 - Sister Sadie
  06 - The Sidewinder
  07 - Seven Steps To Heaven
  08 - I Remember Clifford
  09 - Footprints
  10 - Manteca
  11 - 'Round Midnight
  12 - Spain


Lee Ritenour (guitar);
Nelson Rangell (flute, piccolo, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone);
Bob Mintzer (flute, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone);
Tom Scott (flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone);
Eric Marienthal, Ernie Watts (flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone);
Dave Valentin (flute);
Eddie Daniels (clarinet);
Randy Brecker, Sal Marquez, Arturo Sandoval (trumpet, flugelhorn);
George Bohannon (trombone);
Dave Grusin, David Benoit, Kenny Kirkland, Russell Ferrante (piano);
Gary Burton (vibraphone);
Dave Weckl (drums);
Alex Acuña & the Unknowns, Alex Acuña (percussion)

John Patitucci - Bass.


  1. No bass player...? Patitucci maybe?


  3. Yes, John on bass, error fixed, thanks.

  4. Great ! Friends , i need a album by SIXUN LIVE 1989 in flac....Please , post in this blogspot , thank you .

  5. Amazing line up. Thank you!