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The Real First Album

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Perusing Dave Grusin's discography, it would appear that “Subways Are For Sleeping,” cut in November 1961, was his first album.  Officially, yes.  But that piano trio recording had a predecessor, And that's a fable worth the re-telling.

Milt Hinton
”My first trio has turned out to be quite a lesson in the music business,” he begins.  “I had no clearly defined course at the time. Bobby Scott, a hot young pianist, had made a trio album with Don Lamond and Milt Hinton. I decided to do the same thing, so I hired them to make a demo with me.” he goes on.

Top engineer Phil Ramone donated time to Dave Grusin at A&R Studios in New York, and they recorded some ten standards.  The pianist then distributed copies to Creed Taylor and jazz critic Nat Hentoff among others.

Andy Williams encouraged his musical director in this headliner work, and was very supportive, to the extent of arranging a contract with Columbia subsidiary Epic. Williams producer Robert Mersey, put it all together, and they ended up doing something quite different from the original trio recording -the jazz take on the Broadway show “Subways Are For Sleeping.”

“But that isn't the end of the story,” elucidates Dave Grusin. “It's just the beginning.” Ten years later, the demo original was stolen from A&R Studios, and then released by Versatile in pirated form.

Having bought the recording from the purloiner, Versatile changed the names of the tunes, composers, and music publishers. “Even the Jerome Kern and Cole Porter titles were changed!” Dave Grusin explains, adding “Versatile was enjoined from distributing it. However, they put it out under my name with a photo from Polydor's file.”  

If that wasn't bad enough, the LP was released with a disturbingly provocative cover of a woman's torso. Legal action by the pianist forced Versatile to subsequently withdraw “Don't Touch.”  Whether any copies of this album still remain about can only be a matter of conjecture.

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