Movie jazz has always seemed to find a home in Manhattan, and few composers awash in the spirit of an unsleeping city of a thousand stories have embodied those rhythms with the distinctive, thematic flair of Dave Grusin. Given a trademark NYC sound most often comprised of mellow electric percussion, reflective piano and wistful strings, Grusin has heard the city as both a place of danger (THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR), gilded society (BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES) and eccentric criminal intent (THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE). But more often than not, it’s the vibes of beautiful, soft romance in scores like THE GOODBYE GIRL, AUTHOR! AUTHOR! and the Oscar-nominated TOOTSIE, all of which have enchanted us with a metropolis of pining souls, to which that heartfelt repertoir can now add the first soundtrack release of 1984s FALLING IN LOVE.
This muted, “Brief Encounter”-ish reteaming of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro after their last typist inTHE DEER HUNTER find them as already-coupled characters steadily being drawn into extra-marital passion through increasingly not-so incidental meetings throughout Manhattan. Grusin’s beautiful vibe-y score is the thematic throughline at opening up their vulnerable emotions, carried by with a longing melody that never fails to stroke the heartstrings, especially when combining a gorgeously lush orchestra is there to support the composer’s trademarked soft, and sometimes peppy vibes that make this a particularly noteworthy score for “Tootsie” fans. Indeed, hearing those shimmering strings, electric bells and steady piano percussion is pretty much seventh heaven for lovers of soft movie jazz at its best, as played in a score that pretty much captures Grusin’s winsome appeal as both a composer and jazz artistm here painting Manhattan in a mellow glow as transfixing as a soft fireplace – its gentle light drawing a couple together with an added undercurrent of suspense where the danger is heard in emotional terms.
It’s nice to know that Kritzerland is a fan of Grusin’s work when it comes to his output for Paramount, following up their release of his nostalgic period score to 1984s RACING WITH THE MOON with this other exceptional score from the same year, both scores awash in romance and longing as only Grusin’s affectionate style can convey. Of particular thematic note is the revelation of Grusin’s main theme (tracked in the film with the composer’s “Mountain Dance”), giving us new reason to fall in love with this unsung score for essentially the first time.
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