Johnny Mathis

So Nice

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This 1966 album from Johnny Mathis has four men arranging and conducting the material, all flowing seamlessly during the singer's stint at Mercury Records. Glenn Osser handles both chores on "The Impossible Dream," while Jack Feierman conducts Osser's arrangements on "Dulcinea" and "Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote)," the three songs included here by Leigh and Darion. The "Man of La Mancha" material is in stark contrast to '60s pop classics like Burt Bacharach/Hal David's "What the World Needs Now Is Love," Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly," and the song which hit for Sonny & Cher and Herb Alpert this same year, "What Now My Love." Mathis gives "What Now My Love" the "Twelfth of Never" treatment, breathing his trademark style into the heartache of an individual leaving someone with no concern for the other. Coming in between the Don Quixote material, it is a bit out of place for listeners not accustomed to Mathis' album formula. The singer works with authority -- his pitch always perfect and his focus never missing the mark. Mathis can always pull a "The Music That Makes Me Dance" out of his hat to give his huge and faithful audience the style and sound he is best known for, with Glenn Osser's conducting and arrangement simply sublime. The dozen songs on So Nice range from pop to standards with touches of jazz, with an exquisitely quiet "I Dream of You" uncovering the singer's uncanny ability to blend his tone with an air of mystery. Even a lesser song like "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" comes off with a touch of majesty; it's not easy to do, but Mathis pulls it off effortlessly.

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