Various Artists

The Complete Johnny Mercer Songbook

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One of the giants of American popular song gets his due with this three-disc Verve box, comprising a trio of separately released compilations. Though Mercer's repertoire of classic songs doesn't quite make for three discs, Verve ably solves the problem by pairing a vocal track and an instrumental version on separate discs, such as "Too Marvelous for Words" (by Joe Williams and Lester Young), "Laura" (by Billy Eckstine and Don Byas), "I Remember You" (by Dinah Washington and Charlie Parker) and "Come Rain or Come Shine" (by Anita O'Day and Bill Evans). Verve was the label for jazz vocals, and the combination of a classic songwriter and the roster here -- including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Tormé, Shirley Horn, and many others -- makes for an excellent compilation box.

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