When legendary Grammy winning composer Henry Mancini died in 1994, he left behind an incredible legacy of film and television music whose jazzy and orchestral innovations inspired a whole generation of film scorers and jazz performers. Among his great friends and admirers was Dave Grusin, who drew upon the early Mancini influence to carve out his own Oscar-winning niche as one of the premier movie music writers of the past thirty years, as well as a prolific career as a contemporary jazz pianist. In the tradition of his popular recent tribute recordings The Gershwin Connection and Homage to Duke, Grusin reaches into Mancini's vast, eclectic catalog for Two For The Road, a definitive retrospective which rings brightly both as a memorial and celebration of the man and his music.
All Music Guide
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When 1 was young (younger) and trying to decide which musical road to take, I became intrigued with film music as a possible outlet for eclectic composition. One of the main reasons for this was Hank Mancini. He and a few other young writers (Andre Previn and Elmer Bernstein come to mind) had brought movie music into the latter twentieth century through the use of jazz-oriented background scores. We've come to take that medium for granted now, but in the '50s it was ground-breaking. 1 pursued that course for some years, and eventually actually got to meet the Mancinis. Hank was as generous with advice and enthusiasm as anyone I've known in this arena: the whimsical good humor you hear in his music was there in real life as well. I miss him in a big way, and I dedicate this collection, on behalf of all of us who flourished under his extraordinary influence, to the memory of Henry Mancini.
The themes and songs selected for this album were picked for musical reasons; I tried to remain true to the original spirit of the music, while trying to place some of the tunes in a somewhat altered setting. There are some "evergreens" missing in this group (notably "Moon River" and "Charade"), but not because I don't love them as much as the world does. Rather, 1 wanted to expose a few songs that we don't get to hear every day: i.e.. Whistling Away the Dark, Soldier in the Rain, Dreamsville, and the theme from Hatari. One could go on forever about Henry's prodigious output, but we had to somehow find a stopping place. I've used most of the material on this album as vehicles for improvising... I'd like to think that Hank would approve.
I must thank some significantly important folks for the fulfillment of this release. First, of course, the musicians: John Patitucci and Harvey Mason, Paulinho DaCosta, Tollak Ollestad, Russell Malone, Jerry Hey and The Hot Band: Gary Grant, Dan Higgins, Eric Marienthal, Andrew Martin, Tom Scott, and of course, Diana Krall, who is an example of what can happen when new blood gets hold of this stuff. Also, to Al Schmitt for superb engineering (we know he's not that old, but he actually was the engineer tor a lot of this material on the original recordings!). Thanks to everyone at Avatar in New York, and at Bill Schnee's in Los Angeles.
Many thanks to Ginriy Mancini, to David Quan at All Nations Music, and to Charles Champlin for all your kind help. Also, thanks to the GRP Recording Company and to MCA.
Most of all. big hugs of appreciation to Tommy LiPuma, without whose vision and dedication 1 would not have had this joyful experience. With love and gratitude, Tommy.
- Dave Gkusin (February 9, 1997)