Two for the Road, and
West Side Story
Dave Grusin has been around for a while, through his jazz recordings and movie
scores (to name just a couple of his talents), and also in the world of high
end audio, where his selections have regularly appeared as demo
dts Entertainment has done their digital magic to a pair of Grusins titles,
Grusin-ized versions of the music of Henry Mancini on one hand,
and Bernstein/Sondheims West Side Story. Theyre both good examples
of Grusin, and jazz, though we thought Two For the Road worked better
than the West Side Story disc if only because we liked its mix better
than the one give to "Story".
Mancinis music is the stuff that practically defined the 1950s
and 60s, so far as orchestral and movie music is concerned, and featured
catchy melodies lushly produced. Grusin has shrunk the size of the band, but
in the process has upped the heat ante - so where Mancini always sounded kind
of laid back, here you get laid back, with attitude.
The arrangements are great and, as with other jazz titles give the 5.1 surround
treatment by dts, they dont usually beat you over the head with instruments
whizzing around the room. Rather, for the most part, you get the band across
the front of the room with subtle surround that mostly adds a live feel through
the use of ambient atmosphere.
What you get, then, is a live feeling, a jazz band putting out the heat, with
you front row center.
And how can you argue with that? And we were pleased to hear Diana Kralls
smooth voice showing up on a couple of tracks: Dreamsville and Soldier in the
The audio quality is excellent for the most part, though we found it to be
a tad bass heavy. Not as bad as on Diana Kralls Love Scenes, however. The instruments
are beautifully recorded and placed in front of you as if in concert. Nothing
really overpowers too much and, unlike at least one other dts disc we reviewed,
nothing's deficient, either. In short, a nice mix, nicely presented in the high
resolution audio format thats almost always a treat to our ears.
As with most dts-only discs weve seen, there are no extras, though theres
a decent liner booklet. And if you arent using a digital output from your
player all youll get is noise, but as noted in other reviews this will
probably only bother people trying to listen on their PCs; we think most
people who embrace discs such as these will have the proper hardware configuration,
1. Peter Gunn
3. Mr. Lucky
4. Moment To Moment
5. Baby Elephant Walk
6. Two For The Road
7. Days Of Wine And Roses
9. Whistling Away The Dark
10. Soldier In The Rain
Genre: Jazz Label: DTS Entertainment 5.1 Producer: Tommy LiPuma 5.1 Mixed by:
Al Schmitt UPC: 710215104522
Okay, maybe we got off on the wrong foot with this one because were big
fans of West Side Story, especially the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins movie version
that has been given a terrific DVD treatment. Those arrangements, to us, are
the definitive ones, so any messing around with that is, well if not quite sacrilege
then something approaching that.
Then again, West Side Story has been adapted a zillion times, so it isnt
as if theres something unusual going on here. After all, the tunes have
become standards, and deservedly so - so whats wrong with taking them
and trying to make them your own?
Which is what Grusin has done here - and over all hes done a fine job,
using a pretty substantial band and good arrangements to make this a nice tribute
from an obvious fan.
The arrangements are tasteful for the most part, and well balanced, and the
performances are all first rate. Guest vocalists Gloria Estefan, Jonathan Butler
and Jon Secada are all nicely cast for their songs, and we really
liked the terrific sax solos spread across the album. There's also some nifty
flute work that sounds outstanding.
We were also pleased to see such less often heard tunes as One
Hand, One Heart included.
The sound quality is superb; beautifully recorded and marvelously played back
in the dts system. And unlike other jazz discs, dts has mixed this one so that
instruments are spread all around the room.
Were torn over this technique, however; it works, it sounds great, and
it makes you feel almost as if youre sitting in the middle of the orchestra,
but at the expense of feeling as if youre sitting in the audience of a
live performance as happens with other discs that keep the instruments up front
and surround you with ambience - including Two for the Road.
At least they don't whiz instruments around you.
One can argue that either way of mixing is better and we suppose it depends
what you like. What isnt really arguable is that in mixes such as this
one it really pays to have rear speakers that are up to the task, that are equal
to the quality of your front ones; otherwise the instruments that emanate from
the surrounds wont sound the same as the ones up front.
dts mentions this on its packaging, too, which gives consumers a good heads
And remember, if you dont have a digital output youll only get
noise, so make sure your system is hooked up properly!
Anyway, the bottom line here is that Grusins West Side Story is a wonderful
audio experience featuring terrific musical performances beautifully recorded
2. Something's Coming
3. The Jet Song
4. Maria5. Cool
7. I Feel Pretty
8. One Hand, One Heart
Genre: Jazz Label: DTS Entertainment 5.1 Producer: Phil Ramone 5.1 Mixed by:
Frank Fillipetti UPC: 710215101323
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