Sylvia Syms

A Jazz Portrait of Johnny Mercer

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Sylvia Syms was nearly 65 when she performed this concert and she knew she sounded her age, joking about it several times during the concert. However that makes little difference for the late singer's touching interpretations of Johnny Mercer's lyrics (and her verbal introductions to each song) are often definitive, making this one of her finest recordings. Trumpeter Joe Newman and Al Cohn on tenor (both of whom actually had no opportunity to rehearse with Syms) take occasional solos and the rhythm section (which includes guitarist Gene Bertoncini) keeps the music jazz-oriented although Syms was really closer to being a cabaret singer. One comes away from this previously unreleased program (performed at one of Jack Kleinsinger's "Highlights in Jazz" concerts) greatly appreciating the talents of both Johnny Mercer and the sorely missed Sylvia Syms.

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