Universal Releases GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary 9/25/2012
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November 19, 2015
From its very start as an independent record label in 1982, Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen's GRP Records broke ground, both artistically and commercially. Known as the DIGITAL MASTER COMPANY, they were the first record company to adopt digital recording technology for all its releases, launch every release on CD world-wide, and one of the earliest to market itself as a lifestyle brand.
In celebration of GRP 30, an anniversary show is confirmed for October 9th - 14th 2012 at NYC's famed jazz club the Blue Note. The line-up includes a who's who of GRP alumni including Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, John Patitucci, Will Kennedy (Yellowjackets), and Diane Schuur.
As musicians themselves, Grusin and Rosen proved quality playing and commercial appeal were not mutually exclusive, forging an innovative approach which saw GRP cater to a music loving upper demo audiophile audience that came to trust the label for its taste and aesthetic. All that can be heard on the two-CD set, GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary, a 30 track volume that captures highlights of three decades on the cutting edge of contemporary jazz featuring many of the label's top artists.
Additionally, in keeping with the DIGITAL MASTER COMPANY concept, several GRP classic albums re-mastered in the new high resolution audio format will also be released digitally in conjunction with the 30th anniversary. The albums feature Chick Corea and the Elektric Band, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Diane Schuur, Michael Brecker, Dave Valentin, Yellowjackets, Patti Austin and the GRP All-Star Big Band.
"We took our cue from jazz labels like Blue Note, Prestige and Verve, who established a certain kind of approach to music in their time," says Rosen, who first hooked up as a drummer with keyboardist/arranger Grusin playing for pop star Andy Williams before the two went on to form Grusin/Rosen Productions in 1976. "We always strived to create the best music and sound quality, the best product on every level. That was always the driving factor."
"When you're in the middle of it, you're not thinking about breaking new ground," says Colorado native Grusin, a multi-GRAMMY and Academy Award winning composer and arranger who mostly handled the musical end of things -- the performing and arrangements -- leaving much of the sonics and business side to his partner. "We were just concerned about getting the next release out on time. It's only in retrospect that you can appreciate the accomplishments. And it was always fueled by a desire to find better fidelity."
Grusin has created scores for such movies as The Graduate, The Milagro Beanfield War (for which he won an Academy Award® and a Grammy®), The Fabulous Baker Boys (for which he won a Grammy®), The Firm, On Golden Pond, The Goonies, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Heaven Can Wait, Tequila Sunrise and Havana as well as TV's Maude, St. Elsewhere, Barreta and Good Times.
"Jazz recording was traditionally about taking a black and white snapshot of how it sounded live played in a club and trying to reproduce that in the studio," says Rosen. "Our thing was to approach it, not as documentarians, but as artists painting a picture. I took my cue from Dave's film scores, in which he created these ethereal moods. We tried to represent our jazz artists in the best way possible by placing them on that kind of canvas."
Forming the freelance Grusin/Rosen Productions in the early '70s, the pair produced records for RCA, Columbia, Blue Note and CTI with artists like Jon Lucien, Noel Pointer, Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, and Patti Austin, attracting the attention of then-Arista head Clive Davis, who suggested a joint label deal. The idea was to record jazz artists incorporating straight ahead, R&B and Latin rhythms, and utilize all the modern technology applied to pop recordings, utilizing multi-track layering, reverb and echo. During the Artista/GRP era they discovered and launched the careers of Angela Bofill, Dave Valentin, and R&B "Funkin' For Jamaica" trumpet star Tom Browne.
After the stint under Clive Davis at Arista, Grusin and Rosen launched GRP in 1982 as an independent entity, the first label to release all their albums on Compact Discs just as that format was beginning to take off. The release slate was suitably eclectic, with everything from Grusin's soundtrack albums to a digitally recorded disc of Glenn Miller big band music that became one of the nascent catalog's early platinum best-sellers. Artists like Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Dave Valentin, Lee Ritenour, Patti Austin, David Benoit, Gary Burton, Arturo Sandoval, Tom Scott, Larry Carlton, New York Voices, Kevin Eubanks, B.B. King, Acoustic Alchemy, and Diane Schuur, as well as fusion groups like the Brecker Brothers, Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyro and The Rippingtons became regulars on the newly emerging New Adult Contemporary format popularized on radio stations like CD 101.9 in New York and 94.7 The Wave in L.A. "People used to call these radio stations WGRP because they played so many of our acts," says Rosen.
Thanks to Rosen's astute business sense, GRP became a brand, a name that stood for quality music, with in-store displays and world-wide branded GRP tours to further cement the label's reputation. With Grusin and Rosen's guidance it also garnered 33 GRAMMY® Awards, 80 nominations and was named Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz label for five consecutive years. In 1987 the label signed a U.S. distribution deal with MCA Records paving the way for The company to be acquired by MCA in Feb. 1990. Grusin and Rosen stayed on through 1995 to run The company and integrate the reissue of the Decca, Chess, and Impulse jazz labels.
"The thing about GRP is, it was started by entrepreneurs. We spent years building a brand and style of music that found an audience, brick by brick. Today at concerts it's very rewarding to see people embrace the music," says Rosen, whose JAZZ ROOTS concert series is now being presented in leading performing arts centers across the nation and selling out 2000+ seat venues. "The JAZZ ROOTS series not only entertains audiences, but also exposes students to our musical heritage. It's American culture!"
GRP 30: The Digital Master Company 30th Anniversary Presents
30 Iconic Tracks for every JAZZ fan
1. Dave Grusin And The NY-LA Dream - Serengeti Walk (Slippin' In The Back Door)
2. Dave Valentin - Footprints (Live)
3. Diane Schuur & The Count Basie Orchestra - I Just Found Out About Love
4. The Brecker Brothers - King Of The Lobby
5. Larry Carlton - Kid Gloves
6. New York Voices - Cotton Tail
7. David Benoit - Kei's Song
8. Kevin Eubanks - Opening Night
9. Ramsey Lewis - People Make The World Go 'Round
10. Gary Burton - Reunion
11. Don Grusin - Makossa Beat
12. Dave Weckl - Tower Of Inspiration
13. The Rippingtons - She Likes To Watch
14. Arturo Sandoval - A Mis Abuelos
15. George Benson - Cruise Control
1. The GRP All-Star Big Band LIVE - Blue Train
2. Dizzy Gillespie - Every Mornin'
3. Gerry Mulligan - Move
4. B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone
5. Michael Brecker - Escher Sketch (A Tale Of Two Rhythms)
6. Spyro Gyra - Waltz For Isabel
7. The Yellowjackets - Sandstone
8. Eddie Daniels - Blackwood
9. Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin - Early A.M. Attitude
10. Acoustic Alchemy - Jamaica Heartbeat
11. John Patitucci - On The Corner
12. Kenny Kirkland - Steepian Faith
13. Tom Scott - Free Hand
14. Patti Austin - First Time Love
15. Dave Grusin - How Long Has This Been Going On?