Pianist Don Grusin Returns to San Miguel

By Doug Robinson

I am writing this article as a musician first, and a concert promoter second. I truly love the music of Don Grusin. And when this pianist, composer and arranger takes the stage, I promise you will be entertained at the highest level. The three-time Grammy award winner is bringing his combination of classical, jazz, Brazilian and gospel to El Sindicato for two nights in order to raise funds for the organization’s community-oriented activities.

Concert: Pianist Don Grusin Returns to San Miguel,A Benefit for El Sindicato w/special guests “Medianoche”. Fri, Mar 16 & Sat, Mar 17, 8pm. El Sindicato, Recreo 4. 300 pesos

Grusin is one of those artists whose work you’ve probably enjoyed, even if you didn’t know it. Lists of names can be mind-numbing, but take a look at some of these artists and consider the range of styles Grusin has mastered: if you’ve listened to Sergio Mendes, Patti Austin, Billy Eckstein, Oscar Castro-Neves, Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Joe Pass, Dori Caymmi, Sadao Watanabe, Brenda Russell, Gerald Albright, Jim Hall, Simone, Gilberto Gil, Flora Purim, Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Abe Laboriel, Marcio Montarroyos, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Paulinho Braga,–- musical geniuses from all over the global map –- then you’ve heard Don’s swinging, singing piano lines.

I first discovered Don’s music during the ‘70s, an era that introduced the world to a new crop of outstanding musicians. I was absorbing tricks and techniques from every piano player I heard, and Don’s chord voicings fascinated me. When his brother, pianist and composer Dave Grusin, co-founded GRP Records, Don’s name started popping up on a lot of recording sessions. In fact, one of the first GRP recordings I ever owned was a collection of duets performed by the two brothers. (I just learned that Dave Grusin and Don Grusin are about to release “One Night Only,” a new live concert recording of dueling grand pianos.)

When I told Don about the work of the Sindicato and asked if he would be interested in playing a couple of benefit concerts in their intimate 130 seat theater, he immediately said yes. He loved playing here in 2008 with Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro Neves, and was looking forward to another visit.

Opening the concert each night will be Medianoche, featuring conguero Julian Mendieta, timbalista Kimani Carrazana, bassist Aaron Romo and myself on keyboards. We will play a short set which will include three pieces composed specifically for these performances.

The proceeds from each night will go towards the purchase of musical instruments for some of the Sindicato’s 60 weekly classes, as well as general maintenance upgrades and other special events such as their current program of modern dance performances.

These concerts will be very special events—even if they weren’t for a good cause, they’d be worth your time. Combine the music with the knowledge that you’re helping out a great local organization, and you’ve got the recipe for some real magic. See you there!

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