Over 12 years had passed since Dave Grusin was last featured player on an album when he recorded "Discovered Again" for Sheffield Labs in 1976.
All Music Guide
This remarkable direct-to-disc (see *** below) recording has remained for over a quarter of a century, the subject of discussion and analysis by audiophiles around the world, a true 'reference recording' in terms of music and engineering alike.
This is Dave Grusin, still not yet at the mid-point of his career, but already at the highest echelon of his chosen fields. Having served as sideman, conductor, arranger and/or producer on so many albums for other artists (not to mention composer/performer on soundtracks), at last fans again had the chance to hear him at the center point of a recording, with three original compositions as an added bonus.
The result is probably one of his most unique recorded performances, as the direct-to-disc procedure offers a spontaneous experience of the artist going from one mood to another without a break.
However, whereas those technically enchanted by the recording procedure wax lyrical about "Discovered Again," what is in fact on record is not necessarily the sound actually produced in the studio. All the manipulation which might take place at the mixing stage, was done during the actual cutting of the master, the technology basically being in the microphones.
"For me, it was painful to record direct-to-disc. Our music didn't require the things you do with symphony orchestras," Dave Grusin has lamented. The ambience and harmonic overtones of concert hall acoustics were nonexistent in the recording studio where the wonderful Sheffield Labs equipment could not be utilized to best effect.
He goes on to use Ron Carter's bass by way of explanation, declaring that the stellar player "had spent his life up to that point making the bottom notes of a bass ring." Remembering the session, he declares, "his left hand was amazing. He made them ring for about half an hour."
Dave Grusin felt that the engineers didn't quite grasp the value of this, and "rolled all the bottom off and pushed the top. They wanted to make him sound like Ray Brown." So, in addition to having to be satisfied with a 'first' rather than best performance, "things like that were really in conflict."
While feeling that "It wasn't that difficult doing the side, going from one tune to the next," Dave Grusin reveals, "It drove me crazy. I didn't see any reason, from a musical standpoint, to do a whole side like a program, one thing after another with a studio band," he adds, pointing out that if they had been able to stop and work on each track separately, a more effective recording could have been created.
Still, It is, without doubt, one of Dave Grusin's most pleasurable recordings. And the pianist himself admits, "Now, when I hear the record, it sounds pretty good to me."
The scene for a beguiling listening experience is perfectly set by "A Child Is Born" by Thad Jones. With it's power to soothe, and at the same time, offer a contemplative experience, this is Dave Grusin at his most sublime, perfectly enhanced by Ron Carter's evocative (albeit technically manipulated) bass. So smooth, even breathing seems like an interruption.
Yet, like the stylus relentlessly cutting the master, there is no turning back. The atmosphere so set, one has here a record which keeps us listening straight through, not selecting a favorite track out of the lot.
Whether this is a psychological result of the way the disc was cut, a clever song selection trick of Dave Grusin and the producers, or just some magic in the air, this is a record which draws you in, and won't let go until the last chords of "Adeus a Papai" have vanished.
From the luxurious "A Child Is Born" there is an amazingly effortless (for the listener) swing into "Keep Your Eye On The Sparrrow," the quintessentially funky theme tune from the TV series "Baretta." Sparkling through from beginning to end with vitality, this is the first of the Dave Grusin compositions on this record (the lyrics of which were penned by Morgan Ames who wrote the eminently readable liner notes for this album as well).
Ms. Ames goes on to tell a bit of the history of this song, describing how Dave Grusin handed out blank leadsheets to musicians at the original rhythm date, with she herself, having only a single couplet down on paper. Needless to say, intuitive professional that Dave Grusin is, the theme had completely emerged by the end of the session. (See more about the "Baretta" theme in the FILMS section under TV Series A-F.)
Another Grusin original follows, the mellow "Sun Song," featuring Larry Bunker on vibes and Lee Ritenour playing acoustic guitar. Morgan Ames epitomizes it as like "water,-smooth stepping stones in a clear sweet pond." Says it all.