Dave Grusin: I Feel Pretty


I Feel Pretty


Dave Grusin (piano)


Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story (N2K Encoded Music N2K-10021)

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Dave Grusin (piano), Dave Valentin (flute),

Arturo Sandoval, Greg Gisbert, Glen Drewse (trumpets, flugelhorns), Byron Stripling, Tony Kadleck (trumpets), John Clark, Bob Carlisle, Jeff Lang (French horns), Keith O’Quinn, Jim Pugh, Birch Johnson, Dave Taylor (trombones), George Young (flute and piccolo), Jeff Clayton (oboe, flute and clarinet), Jerry Dodgion, Lawrence Feldman (alto sax, clarinet, flute), Jerome Richardson (tenor sax, clarinet, flute, alto flute), Bill Evans (tenor & soprano saxes), Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax, bass clarinet, clarinet), Roger Rosenberg (bass sax, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet), John Patitucci (bass), Dave Weckl (drums), Sammy Figueroa (percussion); string orchestra led by concertmaster Elena Barere


Composed by Leonard Bernstein


Recorded: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, 1997


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Forty years after West Side Story hit big, pianist Dave Grusin decided to revisit and maybe revitalize Bernstein's musical by recording and overdubbing in several cities and studios, building a jazz-&-strings orchestra la Stan Kenton, and adding guest soloists such as Michael Brecker and Lee Ritenour on some numbers. If you overlook a couple of misguided vocals, Grusin's concept offers expansive arrangements and excellent solos, and one of the top tracks is his brilliant reworking of "I Feel Pretty."

A lilting quasi-ballet in its original form, this new version goes a few steps farther, refashioning the tune as a mixture of flute-lifted Baroque dance and lightly fingered Cubano tango in the manner of Ernesto Lecuona, the trick realized perfectly by master flautist Dave Valentin and mischievous accompanist Grusin. The dual Daves float and shimmer in a haze of apache and pas-de-deux, which suddenly becomes a hard-driven, high-flutin' Afro-Cuban stomp. But this stalls after a minute, slowing for the piano's tango-on-tiptoes return, and then reverts to the master-class duet of piano and flute, now pausing, now proceeding in staccato counterpoint, admitting some fluttery trills and cries, ending quietly.

All in all, it's an enchanting, subtly tongue-in-cheek performance. It was Valentin's day indeed.

Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher

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