Yutaka Yokokura is a Japanese pianist, keyboardist, kotoist, arranger and composer. He recorded three albums with GRP Records: Yutaka (1988), Brazasia (1990), and Another Sun (1993). He previously recorded an album, Love Light, in 1978 by Toshiba-EMI Music Japan. The album received an American release in 1981 on Alfa Records, with the title single, featuring a lead vocal by Patti Austin, reaching #81 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Pianist Sergio Salvatore was only 13 at the time of this recording, his second release. But despite his extreme youth, one forgets Salvatore's age by the third song. He certainly gets the star treatment on the date, playing quartets with Gary Burton, interacting with the Brecker Brothers, and even duetting with Chick Corea on "Sea Journey." But Salvatore somehow manages to keep up with his illustrious sidemen, and the fairly complex music (which includes three of his impressive originals) rewards repeated listenings.
In the summer of 1991 Gerry Mulligan decided to revisit Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool recordings. He discussed it with Miles Davis himself who said he might be interested in participating but sadly Davis died a few months later. With Wallace Roney (the perfect sound-alike) in the trumpeter's place, baritonist Mulligan got the band's original pianist and tuba player (John Lewis and Bill Barber), used his own bassist (Dean Johnson) and drummer (Ron Vincent), and found able substitutes in altoist Phil Woods (unfortunately Lee Konitz was unavailable to play his old parts), trombonist Dave Bargeron and John Clark on French horn.
Eddie Daniels is such a monster on the clarinet that all of his GRP recordings are worth acquiring. This one, however, due to the somewhat commercial nature of some of the tunes (and the lightly funky rhythm sections), is of lesser interest compared to the classics such as Breakthrough. Daniels sounds fine but he is far better than much of the material (generally written by either the clarinetist, Rob Mounsey or Dave Grusin).
Gary Burton's peculiar connection and affinity for great guitarists is a proven historical fact, as he has been responsible for bringing such fantastic musicians to the world stage as Larry Coryell and Pat Metheny. On Six Pack, he joins with six different six-stringers for some decidedly varied modern jazz. Kurt Rosenwinkel makes like Metheny on the first track, the up-tempo Mitch Forman composition "Anthem." Any predictability to the song disappears in the presence of the rhythm section of Jack DeJohnette, Steve Swallow, and Mulgrew Miller. One doesn't generally think of the vibes as a blues instrument, and to be fair, it's really not, but Burton gives it the old college try on the title track, where his vibes intersect surprisingly well with Bob Berg's tenor sax and B.B. King's guitar.
On this diverse and generally interesting CD, keyboardist/composer Dave Grusin performs a five-song suite from his soundtrack of The Milagro Beanfield War along with selections by Harvey Mason, his brother Don Grusin, Hugh Masekela, Marcus Miller and himself. Other than the suite (which has a string section), the music is mostly played by smaller groups, with Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano a major asset on three songs and flugelhornist Hugh Masekela taking a solo on his own "Polina."
Dave Grusin has been a highly successful performer, producer, composer, record label executive, arranger, and bandleader. His piano playing ranges from mildly challenging to competent to routine, but he's primarily an accomplished film and television soundtrack composer. Grusin played with Terry Gibbs and Johnny Smith while studying at the University of Colorado. He was the assistant music director and pianist for Andy Williams from 1959 to 1966, and then started his television composing career. Grusin recorded with Benny Goodman in 1960 and recorded with a hard bop trio who included Milt Hinton and Don Lamond in the early '60s.
The pianist's fifth release for GRP was not only his most mature and sophisticated pop-jazz outing to date, but also one of the year's most enjoyable genre releases. Providing the usual Benoit trademark blend of frisky, angst-free melodic stylings with introspective ballads and knockout vocals (two tunes feature David Pack) and following up the success of their "The Key to You" collaboration in 1988, this stellar collection helped solidify Benoit's hold on the musical form that tunes like "Kei's Song" and "Every Step of the Way" helped popularize.
Discovered by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, Valentin was the first artist signed to GRP and he has been a popular attraction ever since. Valentin has recorded over 15 albums, combining the influence of pop, R&B, and Brazilian music with Latin and smooth jazz to create a slick and accessible form of crossover jazz. In his second album - Legends the young flautist is already a major force on New York's jazz and Latin scenes. Legends represents his solid blend of youthful energy and creative experience.