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Don Grusin Studio

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1968 - 1974

Azteca / Vince Guaraldi

In 1968 Don moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Aspen Colorado and played with many Bay area musicians including Vince Guaraldi and the band Azteca. Members included:

Pat O’hare – trombone

Bobby Ferreira – sax

Mel Martin – sax

Eddie Henderson – trumpet

Tom Harrell – trumpet

Tony Smith – drums

Tom Rutley – bass

Bill Courtial – guitar

Wendy Haas – vocals

Errol Knowles – vocals

Paul Jackson – bass

Paul later moved to Tokyo and Don moved to Los Angeles in 1974.



Quincy Jones Band

In 1975 Don joined Quincy Jones' band as the keyboardist for a tour of Japan and the US. Included in the band were:

 Paulette McWilliams – vocals 

The Brothers Johnson – guitar and bass 

Al Ciner – guitar

Frank Rosolino – trombone

Sahib Shahab – sax

Ernie Krivda – sax 

Michael Buono – drums 

Joe Greene – vocals

Ramón Flores (from Mazatlan) – trumpet

Session Player


Christopher Rainbow

In 1976 Don was the keyboardist on an album produced by Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil for the Irish singer Christopher Rainbow. The album Home of the Brave was recorded at Kendun Studio where the producers were working with their famous Tonto synthesizer which Stevie Wonder used on his records.

Band Leader



Since working with Brazilian musicians was always on the back burner for Don, he helped found in 1978 a new band called Kitchen that was made up of former Sergio Mendez band members. In addition to the foremost samba drummer Claudio Slon, the group personnel consisted of:

Octavio Bailly – bass

Paulinho Da Costa – percussion

Al Ciner (of Rufus) – guitar

Henry Jackson (LA) – vocals

Diane Brooks (Toronto) – vocals

LA horn players: 

Steve Huffsteter – trumpet

Bill Reichenback – trombone

Don Marquis – saxes

Kitchen created a new kind of Brasilian Funk and Lou Adler was the executive producer. After a wildly received concert at the Roxy on Sunset in LA the album was set to be released by A&M. Adler however left for Epic Sony and the project was never released.




Serving as band leader and composer, Don was the creative spark in 1978 behind the acclaimed record company Elektra's fusion ensemble Friendship.  These players have been central in Don's career ever since:  

Lee Ritenour – guitar

Ernie Watts – sax and flute

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Alex Acuña – drums and percussion

Steve Forman – percussion



Pointer Sisters

In 1979 Don co-wrote the Pointer Sisters song "I'll Get by Without You" for their album Having a Party. Co-writers were Melvin Ragin (aka Wah Wah Watson) and Bonnie Pointer. The record was released on the ABC Blue Thumb label.

Composer / Session Player


Venus Logic System

In 1981 Don recorded with Matsutake of Yellow Magic Orchestra at Yamaha Recording studio in LA and wrote "Take a Chance" for his album Venus Logic System. The album was released by EMI/Express.

Solo Album


Don Grusin

Don's composed and produced the studio-recorded solo album Don Grusin for the JVC label in 1981. On the record Don contributed vocals, OBX synthesizer, ARP 2000 synthesizer, vocoder, Fender Rhodes, piano and Mini Moog performances. Other personnel consisted of: 

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Alex Acuña – drums

Steve Forman – percussion

Michael Sembelo – electric guitar

Oscar Castro-Neves – acoustic guitar

Efrain Toro – percussion

Kate Markowitz – vocals

Nathan East – bass

Gary Herbig – tenor sax

Lee Ritenour – electric guitar

Producer / Composer



Don produced and wrote the songs “Cool” and “There’s a Champion on my Side” with Tom Jans for his Champion album which was released on the Japanese label Canyon Records.



Two Eyes

Don and Brenda Russell wrote "Stay Close" for her Two Eyes album which was released by Warner Brothers.

Solo Album



Don's album 10K-LA was released by JVC in 1984. Personnel: 

Nathan East – bass

Lee Ritenour – guitar

Tim Weston – guitar

Dave Grusin – Yamaha GS1

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Ernie Watts – sax

Steve Foreman – percussion

Harvey Mason – drums

Bob Wilson – drums 

Tom Jans – vocals

Kate Markowitz – vocals

Eric Tagg – vocals

Phil Perry – vocals 

Valerie Carter – background vocals

Leslie Smith – background vocals 

Album cover art was by Paul Pascarella.

Producer / Arranger / Player



Don's first Grammy win came in 1985 serving as producer, arranger, session player, composer and drum programmer on the Ernie Watts album Musican. The album was released on Quincy Jones' Warner Brothers distributed label Qwest. Quincy's label also produced the Grammy-winning Chariots of Fire soundtrack album on which Don also served as a session player.

Don and Dave Grusin


Sticks and Stones

Don and brother Dave produced Sticks and Stones for GRP in 1987. This was GRP's first digital recording using SIMPTE-TK software and the Atari computer and was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Don Murray. Album cover art was by Paul Pascarella.

Solo Album



Don produced the solo album Raven for the GRP Records label in 1990. Personnel consisted of: 

Sal Marquez – trumpet

Eric Marienthal – saxes

Tom Brechtlein – drums

Djavan – vocals

Jimmy Johnson – bass

Marilyn Scott – vocals

Kate Markowitz – vocals

Jim Gilstrap – vocals

Ricardo Silveira – guitar

Gary Grant – trumpet

Jerry Hey – trumpet

Gary Herbig – sax 

Album cover art by Paul Pascarella.

Solo Album



Don's album  Zephyr on GRP features: 

Ernie Watts – sax and flute

Carlos Rios – guitar

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Carl Anderson – vocals

Jerry Goodman – violin

Dori Caymmi – guitar and vocals

Alex Acuna – drums

Tom Brechtlein – drums

Album cover art was by Paul Pascarella.

Solo Album


No Borders

Don's album No Borders on GRP featured:

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Alex Acuna – drums

Ricardo Silviera – guitar

Dori Caymmi – guitar

Jerry Goodman – violin

Eric Marienthal – alto sax

Clydene Jackson – vocals

Kate Markowitz – vocals

Arnold McCuller – vocals

Solo Album


Native Land

Don released Native Land in 1993 on the GRP label.  Personnel consisted of: 

Armand Sebal-Lecco – composer and bass

Judd Miller – EWI

Ricardo Silveira – guitar

Dave Grusin – piano

Alex Acuna – drums and percussion

Abraham Laboriel – bass

The songs were inspired by the music of Cameroon and Brasil.

Solo Album


Banana Fish

Don's album Banana Fish on GRP  featured: 

Brenda Russell – vocals

Harvey Mason and Carlos Vega – drums

Armand Sabal-Lecco – bass

John Patitucci – bass

Frank Quintero – vocals

Tollak Olestad – harmonica and vocals

Gary Herbig – baritone sax

Charlie Bisharat – violin

Album cover art was by Joel Nakamura.



Old Friends and Relatives

Don recorded his first piano solo album Old Friends and Relatives at his studio in Monte Nido, CA in 1996. It was released in Japan by old friend Hisao Ebine's company Videoarts Music for which Hisao served as the president. It was later released by another old friend, president Thomas Glasgow, and his company the Care Music Group of Munich. He reprised a few of his favorite standards, including "At Last" (Warren and Gordon), "Fire and Rain" (James Taylor) and "Estate" (Brighetti and Martino).

Solo Album


Laguna Cove

In 1998 Don recorded Laguna Cove with his main gang at a studio in Laguna Beach, CA. Personnel consisted of:

Sal Marquez – trumpet

Walfredo Reyes – drums

Armand Sabal-Lecco – bass

Don Grusin – keyboards

Gerald Albright – sax

Wayne Johnson – guitar

Producer / Composer


Tocando Tierra - A Tribute to Latin American Music

In 2000 Don Grusin and Frank Quintero spearheaded the project Tocando Tierra - A Tribute to Latin American Music. For the project they commissioned 36 artists from all over Latin America to record in multiple cities. This all-star three-disc CD was engineered by Roger Nichols with recording sessions taking place in Los Angeles, Rio, Miami, Caracas, Havana, Lima and Santo Domingo. Unicef was a partial sponsor and the album received a Venezuelan Grammy. 

Nine countries were represented on the album and the personnel from each country consisted of: 


Oscar Castro-Neves (Brasil/US), Pedro Luis e A Parede, Joyce 


Abraham Laboriel and Armando Manzanero 


Compay Segundo, Gema y Pavel (originally from Cuba, now in Spain), Lucrecia (also originally from Cuba, also now in Spain), Aramis Galindo, Mayito Rivera and Habana Ensemble 


Frank Quintero, Soledad Bravo, Ilan Chester, Guaco, Aldemaro Romero, Ensemble Gurrufio, Andres and Linda Breceńo, Guillermo Carasco, Pedro Castillo, Pedro Eustache, Las Voces Blancas, Ernan Lopez-Nusa, Alfredo Najarando, Francisco Pacheco, Saul Vera and Nene Quintero 


Alex Acuna, Ramon Stagnaro, Eva Ayllón and Rony Campos 


Edwin Colon Zayas 


Luis Enrique 


Maridália Hernandez 


Béla Fleck, Shiela E and Paquito D’Rivera 

The rhythm section for the project nicknamed “La Bola” consisted of: 

Don Grusin – keyboards

Frank Quintero – acoustic guitar and vocals

Oscar Castro-Neves – guitar

Ramon Stagnaro – guitar

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Alex Acuna – drums

Band Leader / Composer / Producer


Traveling Fancy

In 2005 Don recorded a piano trio album of jazz standards for the Nippon Crown company in Japan entitled Traveling Fancy. It featured Stan Gilbert on bass and Bill Berg on drums.

Producer / Player


The Hang

In 2006 Don received a Grammy nomination for his live contemporary jazz DVD and CD The Hang. It featured his gang Patti Austin, Harvey Mason, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Ricardo Silveira, Alex Acuna, Phil Perry, Charlie Bisharat, Nathan East, Abraham Laboriel, Pete Escovedo, Natalie Rene, Nelson Rangell, Oscar Seaton, Frank Quintero, Sadao Watanabe, Ernie Watts, Carly Thomas and Jude Crossen. Album art was by Joel Nakamura.

Producer / Player



Also in 2006 Don and his longtime collaborator Bill Sharpe of Shakatak produced the album Geography working together in their studios in LA and then in the UK. It features:

Bill Sharpe – keyboards

Don Grusin – keyboards

Morningtpn Lockett – sax

Fridrik Karlsson – guitar

Jill Saward – vocal

Nelson Rangell – sax and flute

Charlie Bisharat – violin

Nick Cohen – bass

Natalie Rene – vocals

Till Broenner – trumpet; arranger for "Heat"

Solo Album


Piano in Venice

Don released a solo CD entitled Piano in Venice in 2008. It consisted of a collection of tunes inspired by the streets, moods, animals, homeless, and grooves of the Venice, California beach community. Mixed and mastered by Roger Nichols.

Composer / Arranger



Don's second Grammy win came in 2008 for his composing and arranging contributions to Paul Winter's album Crestone.

Band Leader


The Hang Tour

Don put together a band for The Hang Tour in Germany in 2009 and had as its pre-eminent musicians:

Lee Ritenour – guitar

Will Kennedy – drums

Dave Grusin – piano

Wolfgang Schmid (Germany) – bass

Nils Wulker (Germany) – trumpet

Band Leader


Longue View Concert

After having taken his The Hang Band to New Orleans in 2005 he was invited again in 2010 by the Jazz and Heritage Foundation organizers to play a benefit at the Longue View House and Gardens in Metairie, LA. The concert honored local New Orleans mentors who were involved in a children’s landscape and redevelopment organization called the Longue Vue Mission. The band consisted of long-time associates Abraham Laboriel, Oscar Castro-Neves, Alex Acuña and saxophone great Justo Almario.

Producer / Composer


Miho - Journey to the Mountain

Don's third Grammy came in 2011 for his composition and production collaboration on the Paul Winter album Miho - Journey to the Mountain. It is a work based on the primordial music and instruments of Japan captured in a recording at architect I.M Pei’s Miho Museum in the mountains above Kyoto, Japan.

Band Leader


Jazz on 2nd Ave Music Festival - Niwot, CO

Don had for his band on this the gig Robben Ford, Alex Acuna, Abraham Laboriel and Nelson Rangell.

Performing Artist


ElbJazz Festival - Hamburg

Piano Tour with Clara Ponti in Hamburg, Germany.

Band Leader

2011 - 2017

A-Trane Jazz Club - Berlin

Don Grusin Hang Band for A-Trane included:

Christian von Kaphengst – bass

Claus Fischer - bass

Til Broenner - trumpet

Peter Fessler - guitar and vocals

Kim Sanders – vocals

Mark Marshall – vocals

Jeff Cascaro– vocals

Peter Weniger – sax

Mark Wyland – sax

René Decker – sax

Hanno Busch – guitar

Torsten Goods – guitar

Bruno Müller – guitar

Chuck Loeb – guitar 

Guido May – drums

Jonas Burgwinkel – drums

David Haynes – drums

Robert Mehmet Ikiz - drums



One Night Only

Dave and I wanted to present a dueling piano concert and the Bayerischer Rundfunk FM radio people supported this idea to play for a live audience in Munich at their beautiful studios.  We invited Lee Ritenour to join us for a couple tracks and Don Murray in Los Angeles mixed and mastered the album for Care Music Group, headed by Thomas Glagow.

Composer / Arranger / Player


Quality Time

Recorded at Lettercollum Studio in Timoleague, Ireland by John Fitzgerald, Quality Time was produced by Christain Von Kaphengst and executive produced by Thomas Glagow of Care Music Group, Munich. Winner of the German Echo Award for best jazz recording. Personnel consisted of:

Peter Fessler – vocals and guitar

Don Grusin –  keyboards

Christian Von Kaphengst – bass

Robert Mehmet Ikiz – drums

Roland Peil – percussion

Joe Kraus – trumpet

Studio Owner


Don Grusin Studio

In 2015 Don moved back to near his roots in his home state of Colorado. There he built a new state-of-the-art recording studio from the ground up. Located on the banks of Poncha Creek the Don Grusin Studio is in the High Rockies of south-central Colorado at an elevation of 8,440 ft. and is located near the town of Salida, CO.

Band Member


Cotton Club - Tokyo

Nelson Rangell – sax, flute and piccolo

Don Grusin – keyboards

Bijoux Barbosa – bass

Wolfgang Haffner – drums

Sadao Watanabe - special invited audience guest

Band Member


Point of Departure

Peter Weniger – sax

Don Grusin – keyboards 

Hanno Busch – guitar

Claus Fischer – bass

Jonas Burgwinkel – drums

David Haynes – drums

All tracks recorded in 2016 at Letter Collum Studio in Timoleague, Ireland. Recorded by John Fitzgerald and produced by Peter Weniger.

Co-Producer - Composer


The Games

East Meets West 2018 was an album and tour concept created by Minoru Mukaiya and Don Grusin. Immediately after recording the band presented three concerts in Japan in the cities of Fukuoaka, Osaka, and Tokyo.

The Games album was recorded in Los Angeles by Don Murray while producer, composer and keyboardist duties were shared by both Minoru Mukaiya and Don Grusin. Each of the rhythm section players contributed songs for the project as well. Personnel consisted of:

Harvey Mason – drums

Ernie Watts – sax and flute

Paul Jackson Jr – guitar

Abraham Laboriel – bass

Eric Miyashiro – trumpet

Masato Honda – sax

Eijiro Nakagawa – trombone

Hitomi Niida – trumpet

Co-Producer / Composer


Populism Dystopia

Don Grusin and Filippo Gaetani composed, recorded and produced four tracks for this extended play album at Tic Studio in Vienna, Austria in 2017.  

Christain Zeigelwanger – drums  

Marshall Gilkes  – trombone

Tina Heumesser – cello 

Alexander Czerny – guitar on "Call My Name"



Out of Thin Air

This is the first album for Octave Records recorded at Don Grusin Studio in Colorado in early 2020. Produced by Don Grusin it was recorded and mixed in DSD by Robert Friedrich of  Five/Four productions, Ltd. Editing and mastering were handled  by Gus Skinas (Super Audio Center, LLC) for PS Audio, Inc. Album cover art by Joel Nakamura.

The British publication Hi-Fi News and Record Review Magazine included Out of Thin Air in their "Year's Best CD's" list of 2020 and also as a "Hi-Fi News Album Choice" recommendation. The "Year's Best CD's" review can be viewed by clicking here.


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