Johnny Mathis: Don Costa Sessions - JazzWax

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June 12, 2009


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Ian Bradley

I had just opened a package that came in the mail before reading your post, Marc. It contained another of these Johnny Mathis Collector's Choice 'twofers'. This, however, contains the two albums the singe rrecorded with Nelson Riddle - I'll Buy You A Star and Live it Up! (first time on CD for the latter) The repertoire is not quite top drawer, perhaps, but these albums are a real treat for Riddle aficionados. The chart for Just Friends is worth the price of admission alone. I share your reservations about Johnny Mathis up to a point - largely because his repertoire ultimately strayed quite a distance from the 'American songbook' - and the bacjking arrangements with it. But I have admired Johnny's professionalism and integrity for many years and would certainly champion his work as never being less than absolute quality. He is a consummate singer, I feel, and I do not really understand the relative neglect into which his work has fallen. He should be valued much more for his artistic achievements and the unerring sense of class he brings to everything he does.

O. Gauge

"I do not really understand the relative neglect into which his work has fallen."

I'm guessing that it is because there are very few JM 'collectors'. I never heard of anyone collecting JM reocrds.

He did scads of LPs for Columbia and Mercury, but I've never seen a run of them anywhere except a record store.

Someone might buy one here and one there and one over there, but does anyone buy them all? And who? Woman? Not straight guys. He's not a 'man's singer', but I have never heard of him having a gay following, either, so who was buying this stuff?

O. Gauge

Quick research :

"I never heard of a gay following for him. My family’s bohemian baby sitter when I was a kid (she walked around with bare feet all the time, which impressed me in 1961 – she also typed her school papers with her feet) was a Mathis freak and even had a candle burning in her bedroom under a picture of him"

Steve O

I feel the early 60's sessions with Johnny were the greatest! And no one could write a more romantic, magical chart better than Don
Costa...the results of the collaboration are superb!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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