For alumna Barbara Bentree (BME ’80), a long-held respect for—and admiration of—Dave Grusin (BM ’56) ultimately inspired her to direct a film about his life and work.
“It all started on a trip I took with my husband [jazz musician John Rangel],” recalls Bentree, co-founder of Jindojazz, a production company based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “We love listening to audiobooks and we heard an autobiography of Herbie Hancock, which brought Dave Grusin to mind. I thought, ‘Gee, why hasn’t someone done a retrospective on Dave?’
“He’s incredibly humble, though, so it took a while to persuade him.” But persuade him she did, resulting in “Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time,” a compelling documentary co-produced with Rangel.
“It’s wonderful when you admire someone for so long—more than 40 years—and develop a preconceived idea of who they are … and then you have the opportunity to delve more deeply into their life and your admiration only grows,” says Bentree, herself an award-winning vocalist who worked for two decades in Los Angeles and took first place in the prestigious Hennessey Jazz Search with her a cappella group Terra Nova. “I had no idea of the range and incredible volume of Dave’s output—such a huge amount of flawless work that crosses so many genres, from funky pop music to classical to jazz.
“Very few people can go into any genre of music and perform and hang out there at a world-class level. That speaks to how hardworking he is, how accomplished he is and the remarkable talent he is.”
Continues Bentree, “Making the film was an amazing journey that included interviews with film and music icons who dropped everything to be involved in the project because they, too, so greatly admire Dave’s impact and influence on the film and music industries over the last 50 years. John and I just kept pinching ourselves … We felt so privileged and honored to have exclusive time with people we’ve admired all our lives not only to ask questions about Dave but also to gain insight into their lives and experiences.”
As a College of Music student, Bentree—who now serves on the College of Music National Alumni Council—was curious about Grusin Music Hall. “I asked, ‘Who’s this Dave Grusin?’ and the rest is history.”
Bentree also credits her studies at CU Boulder for preparing her to work as a filmmaker. “With a degree in music ed, I’ve worked with every age group, including putting on shows and productions,” she says. “I believe that a degree in music prepares you for amazing things in this world because the elements of music—things like dynamics, pacing and juxtapositions of ideas—translate to other creative disciplines.
“Even though I don’t have a formal education in filmmaking, my music degree and subsequent experiences have made me proficient and unique as a musician making films, in contrast to a straight-ahead filmmaker.”
Indeed, Bentree previously directed theatre companies and produced music for television shows, most notably as a part of “The New Mickey Mouse Club” production team on The Disney Channel. She has also directed and produced the documentary “My Choice” about women’s reproductive issues and another film—“Should You Go?”—about high school reunions. Additionally, she’s served on the board for New Mexico Women in Film and has been a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
“So many things are merging in our world now, including the way we tell stories,” says Bentree. “Film is a powerful way to convey stories in this accelerated world where people have difficulty finding time to read. Visuals and music are ways to cut through and reinforce important concepts. Whether in storytelling or in marketing or in advertising, music is so much of everything.
“Even if you end up being a CEO of a major corporation, knowing about music prepares you to relate to the creative elements of product marketing, for example, and to make educated decisions about using media to promote your products.
“If you have a background in music, you’ve learned how to play on a team and work with other people. You’ve developed a certain work ethic and focus. You’ve gained a certain sensitivity and understanding of the rhythm and flow of things. And you know how to present yourself with confidence in front of groups of people. These skills—developed in part by performing in ensembles and as a soloist—are skills that I rely on every day and that have helped my career.”
Check Bentree's Facebook page for updates on the release date and locations for "Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time."