According to Martin Huxley's liner notes, Dave Grusin has released more than 25 albums; only six of those albums are drawn upon for this discount-priced compilation. (Universal Music's 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection best-of CDs are intended to have a retail price of about ten dollars.) Thus, this is, as Huxley puts it, "a sampling of Grusin's prodigious output," and it's one that bears a similarity to earlier, somewhat longer roundups. Five of the ten selections, "Theme from St. Elsewhere," "Serengeti Walk," "Early AM Attitude," "Bossa Baroque," and "On Golden Pond," appeared on 1990's Dave Grusin Collection; "Theme from St. Elsewhere" and "Rag Bag" were both on Priceless Jazz (1998); and "Bossa Baroque," "Early AM Attitude," and "Peter Gunn" were all on The Very Best of Dave Grusin in 2002. Of course, Grusin co-founded his own record company (he's the "G" in GRP), albeit one that has long since been subsumed into a major label, and he may retain control over how his tracks are repackaged; he seems to know which ones he thinks are the best. And he's not necessarily alone in those judgments, having earned Grammy Award nominations for "On Golden Pond," "It Might Be You," and "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," heard here. But there are even more Grammy nominees and winners left out. The idea seems to have been not so much to present any sort of "best of" Grusin, but rather a representative selection. The first three tracks, "Rag Bag," "Theme from St. Elsewhere," and "Bossa Baroque," show him in his smooth jazz mode. The next two tracks are in the same style, but combine him with others: "Serengeti Walk" is from the live album Dave Grusin and the NY-LA Dream Band, and "Early AM Attitude" is from Harlequin, a duo album with Lee Ritenour. Then, styles change radically as Grusin the film composer is presented on the piano-with-orchestra selections "On Golden Pond," "It Might Be You" (the theme from Tootsie), "The Champ," and "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter." Finally, Grusin pays tribute to one of his major influences with a big-band straight-ahead jazz rendition of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn." And with that, in under 47 minutes, the listener should get a good idea of the breadth of Grusin's talent, from composing to keyboard playing, and all at a modest price.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann