Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Johnny Mercer - A Centennial Tribute

Magazine article IAJRC Journal

Johnny Mercer - A Centennial Tribute

Article excerpt

Daryl Sherman:

Johnny Mercer - A Centennial Tribute

Arbors ARCD 19388

Wycliffe Gordon (tbn, v), Jerry Dodgion (as), Daryl Sherman (p, v), Marian McPartland (p Twilight World), Barbara Carroll (p I Thought About You), Howard Alden (g, bjo), Jay Leonhart (sb, v), Chuck Redd (d, vib)

I'm Shadowing You / Little Ingenue / Midnight Sun / Jeepers Creepers / Come Rain or Come Shine / Bathtub Ran over Again / Lazy Bones / Peter Piper / I Thought about You / At the Jazz Band Ball / Charade / Dream / Twilight World / Here Come the British TT:62:50

A centennial tribute to Johnny Mercer was a fine idea - even better was the idea of including such a cross section of material from all phases of his career. Daryl Sherman is an interesting choice for such a tribute. As a pianist and singer, Sherman tends to veer more towards the cabaret style of one of her principle influences - Blossom Dearie. She is a song stylist with a strong jazz background, although she is not at her best either vocally or instrumentally at fast tempos. Nevertheless, her theatrical flair brings these tunes - some of them virtually forgotten - to life.

While Billie Holiday could take tunes from 1930s Broadway and strip away their dramatic overtones to reveal a jazz nugget of minimalist dimension, Sherman and her crew do exactly the opposite. Most of these Mercer tunes (especially the earlier ones) were written for frothy Hollywood films, revues, or the dance band grind, and were probably not conceived of as meaningful life statements. Here such tracks as Charade and Come Rain or Come Shine are treated as if they were second act curtains on Broadway. It is a tribute to the performers that this treatment does not topple over into pathos. The difference between the lightness of Jeepers Creepers and the sophisticated, aria-like Twilight World (written with Marian McPartland) is a remarkable tribute to Mercer's range. …

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