Jazz CD Reviews
Johnny Mandel – The Man and His Music – Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra – Arbors
Published on March 25, 2011
Johnny Mandel – The Man and His Music, featuring Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with special guest Ann Hampton Callaway – Arbors Records – ARCD 19419, 68:42 [Distr. by Allegro] *****:
(Johnny Mandel – conductor, composer, arranger; Ann Hampton Callaway – vocals; DIVA Jazz Orchestra –Rhythm Section: Sherrie Maricle – leader, drums; Tomoko Ohno – piano; Noriko Ueda – bass; Sheryl Bailey and Dida Pelled – guitar. Reeds: Sharel Cassity – lead alto sax, soprano sax, flute; Lynn Gruenwald – 2nd alto sax, flute; Janelle Reichman – 1st tenor sax, clarinet; Leigh Pilzer – 2nd tenor sax, bass clarinet; Lisa Parrott – Baritone sax, bass clarinet. Trumpets: Tanya Darby – lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Jami Dauber – 2nd trumpet, flugelhorn; Christine Fawson – 3rd trumpet, flugelhorn; Nadje Noordhuis – 4th trumpet, flugelhorn. Trombones: Deborah Weisz – lead trombone; Jennifer Krupa – 2nd trombone; Sara Jacovino – 3rd trombone; Leslie Havens –bass trombone)
Johnny Mandel started playing piano at an early age. He switched to trumpet and later to trombone. In the 40s he played with many of the big-name bands such as Jimmy Dorsey, Buddy Rich and Chubby Jackson. He accompanied June Christy while playing with Bob Cooper’s orchestra. He composed for many artists through the 1950s such as Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, and Count Basie. He received many awards including the Academy Award for best song in 1965 for the hit theme song from The Sandpiper, “The Shadow of Your Smile” which he co-wrote with Paul Francis Webster. He wrote the theme music “Suicide is Painless” for the movie and TV series M*A*S*H. He has been very active in composing and arranging film scores.
Drummer Sherrie Maricle and the all woman Diva Jazz Orchestra are not new to this writer. I have given air-play to several other of their albums when I was an on-air host and music programmer for a jazz radio station. They are a tight-playing, highly professional group of musicians that are a joy to hear. The orchestra contains some really great jazz soloists that make this album top class.
Johnny Mandel: The Man and His Music is a recording of a live concert occurring at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, New York City in the Spring of 2010. This was the result of an inspiration by the late Stanley Kay with the collaboration of Johnny Mandel and the Diva Jazz Orchestra. Ten of the music tracks are compositions by Johnny Mandel. The other three tracks are other compositions that Johnny arranged for the orchestra. The album leads off with “Low Life”, a song Johnny wrote and arranged for Count Basie’s recording in 1956. It is an easy-going swinger with great solos from guitar, trumpet and two tenor saxes. The sax section voicing together is a gem. “Close Enough for Love” is a beautiful mournful blues tune headed up by the clarinet playing of the amazing Janelle Reichman. “Not Really the Blues” is a burner composition-arrangement by Johnny for Woody Herman and the Four Brothers Band in the late 1940’s. “Emily” is Johnny’s famous theme song for the movie, “The Americanization of Emily”. It is a beautiful rendition of brass and sax choir voicing with great solos.
The next three music numbers are vocals by Ann Hampton Calloway. “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” is a Harry Woods composition arranged by Johnny. Ann is in good voice and form on this quick stepping romantic tune. The hauntingly beautiful “Where Do You Start” by Johnny and lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman is a break up of romance song that has been covered by several artists including Sinatra. Ann gives a nice rendition. Ann’s last tune is an arrangement of Johnny’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”. Moving on to “The Theme From I Want to Live!” – the original recording had Gerry Mulligan starting the opening music line with his sexy baritone sax sound. This was amply done in the same manner by baritone saxist Lisa Parrott with the orchestra swinging through the song. “TNT” is the closing number. Johnny arranged Tiny Kahn’s tune giving the DIVA orchestra one last burner to remember them by.
The whole project is excellent. The liner notes contain bios on Johnny Mandel and the history of how the DIVA Jazz Orchestra came about. There is a soloist list for each song. Especially nice are photos of the people involved. It is a classy album showing all sides of great big band music which I am glad to have come across.
TrackList: tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, and 25 are short announcements and comments made by Todd Barkan, Johnny Mandel and Ann Hampton Calloway.
Music Tracks: 2. Low Life; 4. Close Enough for Love; 6. Not Really the Blues; 8. Emily; 10. Black Nightgown; 12. What a Little Moonlight Can Do; 14. Where Do You Start; 16. Ain’t Nobody’s Business; 18. Theme From M*A*S*H; 20. The Shadow of Your Smile; 22. Cinnamon and Clove; 24. Theme From I Want to Live!; 26. TNT
— Tim Taylor