As a means of telling one of the most infamous stories of Savannah, GA, jazz-student/director/actor Clint Eastwood has chosen the works of one of the most famous natives of this fabled southern city, Johnny Mercer. Not only has he and producer Matt Pierson picked some of the most beautiful and beloved selections of the Great American Songbook, but the pair have also enlisted some of the greatest musical talents to perform them. In addition to older masters such as Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, and Rosemary Clooney (who easily earns the honors of the films featured chestnut, "Fools Rush In"), the album features a collection of younger talents from the world of jazz -- such as Cassandra Wilson, Kevin Mahogony, Joshua Redman, and Diana Krall -- and a number of crooners and tunesmiths from other genres, such as k.d. lang, Alison Krauss, and Paula Cole. In addition, Eastwood himself steps up to the mike to run the appropriately chosen "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" through his smoky vocal clips. In an effort to prevent the award-winning director from having all the spotlight, leading man Kevin Spacey and Eastwood's daughter Alison (who also stars and sings in the film) also take turns in the studio. With the keyboard work of Brad Mehldau and a backing band which includes the likes of Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks, and a host of others, this album would have to work to fail. The high points (which are high indeed) include lang's lush orchestral flow through "Skylark," Cole's sonorous head-voice rendition of "Autumn Leaves," Krauss' beguiling offering of "This Time the Dream's on Me" and, of course, Bennett's version of "I Wanna Be Around," which has every bit of swing and sting as it did when it was recorded in 1962. While Oscar-winner Spacey is a trained vocalist, and while the song is especially germane to his voodoo-lovin' character in Midnight, his spoken-song lounge-act swing through "That Old Black Magic" argues for his continued success in acting. Contrarily, the younger Eastwood's twangy torch of "Come Rain or Come Shine" demonstrates that the Eastwood musical apple has not fallen at all. Clint has made our day again, and we should all feel lucky, Punk!
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AllMusic Review by Matthew Robinson