Given his highly prolific nature, it is hard to imagine now that Dave Grusin was once reluctant to pursue a career in music. Raised in Littleton, Colorado, a small town south of Denver, Grusin seriously considered a career as a veterinarian before switching fields. He credits his father, who played violin, with instilling in him and his brother Don an understanding of classical music and “the literature of great orchestration.” A piano major at the University of Colorado, he studied the classical repertoire but found a great affinity for the jazz greats of his time, from Shorty Rogers and Shelly Manne to Brubeck, Basie and duets by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. While still in school, he found time to play with visiting artists like Art Pepper, Terry Gibbs and singer Anita O’Day.
Grusin planned for a career in academia when he moved to New York in 1959 and enrolled in the Manhattan School Of Music, but soon found himself touring behind Andy Williams, moving to Los Angeles in the process. In Williams’ band, he met drummer and future business partner Larry Rosen. Grusin launched his recording career in the mid-60’s with two jazz trio albums, Subways Are For Sleeping and Piano, Strings And Moonlight.
In 1964, Grusin left “The Andy Williams Show” to work on his first film assignment, the Norman Lear/Bud York production of Divorce American Style. This marked the beginning of his career as a premier film composer. Among his Academy Award-nominated work over the years have been scores for Heaver’ Can Wait, The Champ, On Golden Pond, Tootsie (he co-wrote the Stephen Bishop hit “It Might Be You”), The Milagro Beanfield War (which won the 1988 Oscar), Havana, The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Firm. Other well-known films include The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Three Days Of The Condor, The Goodbye Girl, And Justice For All, Reds, and Tequila Sunrise. In 1987, Grusin released Cinemagic, a compilation of new versions of his classic scores. Grusin also penned the theme songs for Lear-produced ’70’s sitcoms Good Times and Maude, as well as the TV series Baretta and St Elsewhere. His latest movie scores include the feature film, Selena and Christopher Reeve’s directorial debut for HBO, In The Gloaming. In addition to his prolific scoring work, Grusin has also arranged for recording artists including Sergio Mendes, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel, Peggy Lee, Paul Simon and Grover Washington, Jr.
As the vice chairman of N2K Inc., Dave Grusin oversees the company’s creative affairs, including musical content and Web-related initiatives. With the formation of N2K Inc., he continues his legendary relationship with Larry Rosen which began in 1976 when they formed Grusin/Rosen Productions, leading to their label deal with Arista in 1978. In 1983, they went independent with GRP Records which became the most successful contemporary jazz label in the world under their reign.
Grusin’s own hits include Night-lines (1984), Harlequin (a duet album with Lee Ritenour in 1986), Sticks And Stones (a duet with brother Don in 1987), The Fabulous Baker Boys (a double Grammy winner in 1989), Migration (1989), and the tributes The Gershwin Connection (1991) and Homage To Duke (1993). Grusin has received ten Grammy Awards, most recently for “Three Cowboy Songs” from his highly acclaimed The Orchestral Album. Grusin’s latest releases are Two For The Road, a tribute to Henry Mancini, and Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story, a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the American classic and the first audio recording to be released in DVD format.
Grusin has received an honorary doctorate of music degree from Berklee College of Music, the Richard Kirk Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 1989 BMI Motion Picture and Television Awards, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado. Along with Larry Rosen he is co-founder of the National Foundation for Jazz Education (NFJE), a philanthropic group which helps young jazz musicians. He also serves on the board of directors of American Rivers, a national environmental organization. In addition to Grusin’s jazz, film music, technology and environmental activities, he serves on the College of Music advisory board at the University of Colorado, and raises Red Angus cattle on his ranch in Montana.