Hear samples of tracks from this album and purchase it from Amazon.
JVC - VIJ 6326
GRP - GRP-A-1018
GRP - GRD 9507
Rag Bag (4:32)
Friends And Strangers (5:55)
City Lights (4:45)
Rondo-"If You Hold Out Your Hand" (4:34)
Mountain Dance (6:14)
Captain Caribe (5:06)
Either Way (5:05)
Rubens Bassini (percussion), Harvey Mason, Sr. (drums), Marcus Miller (electric bass), Jeff Mironov (electric guitar), Ian Underwood (synthesizer), Ed Walsh (oberheim synthesizer)
Arranged by Dave Grusin
Produced by Dave Grusin & Larry Rosen
FLASH ! -
This great album has now been released in a limited edition of 3000, reflecting the original JVC format
A fabulous title track and a unique place in jazz history. These are just two of the elements which make “Mountain Dance” easily one of the most significant of Dave Grusin's musical offerings.
Although originally recorded for JVC in 1979, this was the first Dave Grusin album to be released on his own label, Arista-GRP, in 1980. It not only represented the beginning of the digital age in jazz, but brought forth a piece which could easily be regarded as the Grusin signature tune, the always dazzling and exhilarating “Mountain Dance.”
This piece has been released a number of times on other records (“Collection,” “Priceless Jazz,” “Cinemagic” and a new version on “Live in Session” as well as an acoustic one on the "N.Y./L.A. Dream Band" video), and the tendency is to inextricably regard that single tune as the “Mountain Dance” album. In fact, these are all tracks which hold up on their own, with or without the title extravaganza.
Starting off with the bouncy and infectious charmer, Dave Grusin's own “Rag Bag,” we move on to the mellow “Friends and Strangers,” a real anthem of the smooth side of the GRP sound (concert version to be heard on "GRP All-Stars Live In Japan").
The rest of this melodic fusion album is populated with Dave Grusin's own compositions, including the cool but insistent “City Lights,” and the slightly Caribbean rondo “If You Hold Out Your Hand,” before launching into the title gem.
Appreciation of the kind Dave Grusin expresses for all the gifts and treasures of friendship and shared performance are encapsulated musically in his gentle “Thanksong.” This is the customary solo track fans look forward to on most Grusin albums, with his last original tune being the rocking “Captain Caribe” (also featured on "GRP All-Stars Live In Japan "). “Mountain Dance” ends with “Either Way,” a soothing and easy conclusion to this landmark recording.
The original concept for the album evolved from the idea of using synthesizers as the basis for an entire LP. Dave Grusin had initially considered using the direct-to-disc process for a `live' feel, rather than making it a layered mixing affair with overdubbing. The trick, he thought, was how good one was at programming and how quickly changes could be made during the performance, “in order to remain interesting.”
He felt the Oberheim couldn't be played sounding the same throughout, thus his theory was to use bass, drums and multiple keyboards, believing there would be “enough tonal variation with four of these to carry it off.”
The resulting mix of rhythm section and keyboards - acoustic piano, mini moog, Oberheim/Polyphonic 8-voice synthesizer, as well as OBX, and Prophet synthesizers - was the realization of the adventurous plan.
However, instead of going with direct-to-disc, producers Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen decided to take that adventure to a new level of discovery. Digital recording. To this end, they sought out the new two-track Soundstream recorder to make it an album which remained state of the art for a decade.
So the sound is the actual interaction of Jeff Mironov and Marcus Miller on electric guitar and electric bass as well as Harvey Mason and Rubens Bassini on drums and percussion, along with Ian Underwood and Ed Walsh handling the synthesizers. It was an inventive - and at all times demanding - four-day session at A&R's Studio 2, which brought out the best in the stellar participants. Marcus Miller remembers Harvey Mason's urging to improvise on repeated takes, so that each one had something new to offer. But because of the costly mastering, the hope of some bonus tracks to exhibit the free-flowing sessions is probably never likely.
For the ground-breaking digital master was a costly affair. To create it added a then mammoth $10,000 to the project. Having seen a demonstration of Thomas Stockham's incredible Soundstream machine, Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen were determined to master and sequence it with this new technology. To do so they had to make their way to Salt Lake City where the equipment had been developed in a private house.
Larry Rosen recalls, “to edit Mountain Dance, we sat in this place with these hard disks, and it was really an involved process.” Dave Grusin explains that, even putting the fade out at the end of the “Mountain Dance” track took nearly an hour to add in, each increment of lessening volume needing to be individually typed into the Soundstream computer. The producers had opted for adding the fade out during the editing process rather than during the actual recording. The thought had been to give them more flexibility in the post-recording phase, but they never guess that digital equivalent of turning a fader knob would be such an elongated procedure.
No one would question that the cost and the time were obviously worth it. The superior sound is evident each time one plays this shimmering record.
With all the advancements in technology, the quality produced by the Soundstream machine (still in a primitive stage of development then) on “Mountain Dance” was so revolutionary, it was not improved on until the nineties. What you are able to hear on the CD version of this record is virtually the equivalent of the original Soundstream master.
Just how good?
The best example comes from the use of the tune “Mountain Dance” in the Meryl Streep-Robert de Niro film, “Falling in Love” (which Dave Grusin scored.) A CD just like the ones available in retail stores was used on the actual soundtrack, So perfect it was, Paramount was able to transfer it directly onto film. In fact, the sound quality of “Mountain Dance” in the motion picture was so exceptional that it stands above that on most movie music tracks. “It was as clean as anything I've ever heard in a film,” states the composer.
But technical quality (slightly) set aside, the prime matter is the music, and “Mountain Dance” is superb artistry by any standard.
Digitally Recorded and Mixed by Larry Rosen
Assisted by Ollie Cotton
Soundstream Engineer: Jeff Ostler
Mastered by Ted Jensen, Sterling Sound
Photography: Gary Gross
Go to: "Live in Japan"
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