Don Grusin

Raven

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As he proved in his production of David Benoit's 1989 smash Urban Daydreams, the younger brother of Dave Grusin is a master at texturing various synth textures with the acoustic piano. On his solo debut Grusin once again does a remarkable job of this, mixing up his styles along the way to include bits and pieces of funk, Brazilian and mainstream jazz, along with healthy doses of the obligatory pop jazz formulas. Though the ballads here, such as "Oracle," are likable, Grusin the player is most at home on funky and frisky numbers like the stealthy "Catwalk," which features some tasty acoustic improvisations layered sparingly amidst a contagious synth groove. The best cut is another funkfest, "Graffiti Bird," which features the very punchy solo chops of saxman Eric Marienthal. The horns of Gary Herbig, Gary Grant, and Jerry Hey brass up this cut, as well as the softer line of "Light in the Window," while Sal Marquez's trumpet (which added so much to The Fabulous Baker Boys) adds a mainstream touch to songs like the title cut. The Brazilian vocalizing by Djavan makes "Two Lives" a memorable experience as well. And let's not forget kudos for the solid backbeat by bassist Flim Johnson and skinmaster Tommy Brechtlein. GRP was the smooth jazz mecca for many years, but once in a while the label released a project like this which added a lot of twists to the tried and true.

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