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The Musician

Don Grusin truly epitomizes the term visionary.

Artist, innovator, educator, performer and advocate for social change, Don Grusin Music and Bad Dog Music are the production houses and publishing entities for this esteemed American composer, producer, arranger and pianist with 3 Grammy’s, 20 CD’s and an unstoppable global vision that infuses everything he does from recording to teaching.

Born in Colorado and influenced mightily by his immigrant father from Latvia, Don grew up as a wannabe cowboy, played sports in school, and always had music as something to fall back on - if you grew up in the Grusin household, you had to play (read: practice) piano. Don started when he was 6, and his musical influences came from square-dancing to country bands at the local grange; from pianists Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Vladimir Horowitz; to his dad’s strolling through the house playing 2nd violin parts of Bartok string quartets.

Also of influence was their small town R&B radio station where Don digested the music of the great soul and funk bands and singers and immersed the ‘Groove’ into his playing trademark. This early experience was also how his interest in African and Latin American music was born. Adding to this was his older brother Dave’s influence, who pointed him, unwittingly really, to the great jazz players of the 1950’s-60’s.

To complement his interest in world music, Don obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Colorado. He taught as a Fulbright Professor of Economics at the Autonomous University in Guadalajara, Mexico, before returning to the U.S. to enter the music business full-time after joining Quincy Jones’ band for a Japan-U.S. tour in the mid 1970s. 

Don was the creative spark-plug for the acclaimed Atlantic Records fusion ensemble Friendship, and from there proceeded to record and produce scores of albums over the course of the next 35 years – including 20 of his own - as well as composing for and producing Ernie Watts’ Grammy-winning Quest CD, Musican.

Don has had five different recording "homes" over the years - GRP out of NYC, VideoArtsMusic in Tokyo, JVC and Universal for Japan and Asia, and CareMusicGroup in Germany. Don has recorded and played with many esteemed artists over the years including Sergio Mendes, Patti Austin, Peggy Lee, Oscar Castro-Neves, Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Joe Pass, Dori Caymmi, Sadao Watanabe, Frank Quintero, Brenda Russell, Ernie Watts, Gerald Albright, Nelson Rangell, Paul Warburton, Jim Hall, Simone, Luizao and Artur Maia, Gilberto Gil (one of his favorite early Los Angeles recording experiences on Gil’s album Nightingale), Flora Purim, Airto, Larry Carlton, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Abe Laboriel, Alex Acuña, Marcio Montarroyos, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Paulinho Braga, Leon Ware – musical geniuses from all over the global map – who continue to accompany and inspire him. 

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