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Dave Grusin: Mountain Dance CD Review

by February 21, 2014
Dave Grusin Mountain Dance

Dave Grusin Mountain Dance

Label: GRP (GRD-9592)

Track List

1)     Rag Bag

2)     Friends And Strangers

3)     City Lights

4)     Rondo

5)     Mountain Dance

6)     Thanksong

7)     Captain Caribe

8)     Either Way


One of the first all digital (DDD) recordings ever produced, Mountain Dance was originally conceived as a “direct-to-disc” project for JVC that was later released on Grusin's own (GRP) label (very similar to the Sheffield Labs projects of the late 70's/early 80's). It was actually recorded to the (new at the time) two-track SoundStream digital recorder, with no over-dubs or edits; multiple synthesizers were “triggered” to enhance the sound, something actually very common today.

Audio Quality

This CD remains one of the first (and best) examples of the potential for recording in the digital domain. The ground-breaking digital master was a costly affair; creating it added a then mammoth $10,000 to the project (almost $30,000 in today's dollars). Having seen a demonstration of Thomas Stockham's incredible Soundstream machine, producers Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen were determined to master and sequence one of their own recordings with this new technology. To do so they had to make their way to Salt Lake City where the equipment had been developed. Mountain Dance was literally edited via hard disks; even something as simple as a fade out took nearly an hour to add in, as each decrement in volume needed to be individually typed into the Soundstream computer.

There's so many great tunes on this release I don't know where to begin! Rag Bag and Either Way feature punchy drum tracks, and City Lights and Mountain Dance feature interesting percussion tracks (checkout the triangle on the latter). Captain Caribe first appeared on an Earl Klugh album a few years prior. Even though there's a lot of synthesizer featured on this CD, Grusin truly has a unique rhythmic approach to the acoustic piano. Thanksong is a prime example of the outstanding audio quality on this release. Some of the hardest acoustic instruments to record are drums/percussion and piano, and this release demonstrated the amazing capability of the (then unproved) digital recording domain.


Great music and great musicians delivering great performances, topped off with outstanding production, make Mountain Dance an all-time favorite of mine. The sidemen alone make this CD a modern jazz classic. Lastly, for you vinyl fans, the album was eventually re-released in a limited edition run of 3000, reflecting the original JVC format (and different artwork). I have the original LP release from 1980, which also sounds great and features the same artwork as the CD reviewed here.


Audio Quality: 5/5

Features: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Reference Equipment

  • Yamaha DSP-A1 Natural Sound A/V Amplifier (Stereo Mode)
  • Pioneer Elite CLD-99 Reference LD Player
  • Polk Monitor 10B Speakers (x2)


About the author:
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Stanton was born and raised in Kansas City, where he was exposed to the rich culture of jazz at a very young age. He's a drummer and an electrical engineer and loves to review jazz music for us.

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