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Don Grusin Studio

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Don Grusin is an esteemed composer, producer, arranger and pianist whose accolades include 3 Grammys, 20 solo CD’s and 100’s of recordings with musical heavyweights from all around the world. Don is once again making Boulder, Colorado, his home and continues to function as an artist, innovator, teacher and performer.  He is recently back from playing in London with his longtime collaborator Bill Sharpe at the Steinway-sponsored Piano Duets week at the Pizza Express in Soho.


Born and raised in Colorado, Don was influenced mightily by his immigrant father from Latvia. While growing up as a wannabe cowboy and playing sports in school, Don always had music as something to fall back on. If you grew up in the Grusin household you had to practice piano. Don started when he was 6 and had an eclectic mix of musical influences. These included attending the Denver Symphony Orchestra; dancing to the square-dance bands at the local grange; listening to pianists Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Vladimir Horowitz; and from watching his his dad strolling through the house playing the second violin parts of Bartok string quartets.

Also of influence was their small town R&B radio station where Don listened to the music of the great soul singers and funk bands. Here his interest in Black American, African and Latin American music was born. In addition, Don's brother Dave influenced his education in jazz by introducing him to the great players of the times.


In the 1960’s 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 music full-time after joining Quincy Jones’ band for a Japan-U.S. tour in the mid 1970s. 

Don has recorded and played with many esteemed players over the years. These musical geniuses hail from all corners of the global map and these players still accompany and inspire Don today. The list includes: Gary Burton, Sergio Mendes, Peggy Lee, Patti Austin, Oscar Castro-Neves, Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Bob Margouleff, Malcolm Cecil, Joe Pass, Dori Caymmi, Totonho Villeroy, Sadao Watanabe, Frank Quintero, Clark Terry, Brenda Russell, Ernie Watts, Pete and Sheila Escovedo, Gerald Albright, Nelson Rangell, Bill Sharpe (of Shakatak), Paul Warburton, Jim Hall, Simone, Luizao and Artur Maia, Gilberto Gil, Flora Purim, Airto, Larry Carlton, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Béla Fleck, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Abe Laboriel, Alex Acuña, Ramon Stagnaro, Marcio Montarroyos, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Paulinho Braga, Leon Ware and his brother Dave Grusin.


Don has had six recording-label "homes" for his albums over the years: GRP Records out of New York City, Videoarts Music in Tokyo, JVC and Universal for Japan and Asia, C.A.R.E. Music Group in Germany, Octave Records (a subsidiary of high-end audio products and equipment manufacturer PS Audio) in Boulder Colorado and Secret Records out of London who released and licensed Don and Bill Sharpe’s collaborative Geography and Trans Atlántica albums. Don's compositions are published by Don Grusin Music and Bad Dog Music.



Don received an honorary Doctorate of Music from Five Towns College in Huntington, NY, and is working with colleagues both there and at the University of Colorado as a "musical activist" to promote social change. Since 1990 Don has been a frequent speaker and performer at the University of Colorado’s annual Conference on World Affairs.


As a result of his 50 years of travels playing and recording around the globe, Don was struck by finding many fellow musicians doing positive social change work in their communities and countries. Don parlayed these thoughts and experiences into a multidisciplinary course at the University of Colorado's ATLAS Institute called World Music Video Projects as Catalyst for Social Change.   


Don created the class to bring together such diverse fields as economics, music, film, ethnography, journalism, and art to produce videos as educational and marketing tools leading to greater global social awareness and action. Students enrolled in the course document and assist musicians, artists and social activists around the world who share similar goals of working to create social and economic progress, raise personal and public awareness and conduct investigative teamwork with a purpose.  The course is interdisciplinary in that it includes majors from throughout the university and utilizes music as the medium to bring and bond the students together in their approach when choosing subjects, trading ideas and entrepreneurially collaborating. The latter aspect became a defining element of the class.

The recipient of the University of Colorado Alumni Association’s 2006 George
Norlin Award for distinguished lifetime achievement, Don also serves on the advisory board of the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado.

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