Johnny Mercer

Songsmith From Savannah

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An entry in a Collectors' Choice series titled Popular Gentleman of Song [sic], Johnny Mercer's Songsmith From Savannah features 12 of the master songsmith's best compositions. Don't misunderstand; this isn't a greatest-hits volume. It's a brief collection of Mercer material, probably from the '50s and taken from transcriptions or perhaps even an original LP issue -- the scant, awkward liner notes never so much as hint at the source or lineup. Anyone with a strong interest in Mercer's playful, charming vocals, however, might like to check this one out: backed by a small, faithful combo, he lays back on these cuts and provides innumerable tweaks on the songs his fans knew back and forth in their original versions. Helen O'Connell guests on "Accentuate the Positive" (just before a nice, uncredited sax solo), then takes "Moon River" and "Autumn Leaves" by herself. Bobby Troup stops by to duet on a rare Mercer penning, "Jamboree Jones" (which he also reprised on 1955's Bobby Troup Sings Johnny Mercer), but all the highlights come on unaccompanied songs: "G.I. Jive," a strolling "Satin Doll," and "Lazy Bones."

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