Yesterday, around 2 p.m., I became stuck on Cal Tjader's The Shining Sea, which was written by Johnny Mandel for The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming in 1966. The track features Scott Hamilton on tenor sax and is one of the most beautiful renditions of the song. [Photo above of Johnny Mandel by Spike Nanarello]
Which made me realize there really aren't any bad Johnny Mandel tribute albums, which by default means there aren't any bad Johnny Mandel songs. All jazz artists and vocalists who have taken on Johnny's compositions slide into his mood and deliver impressions without violating the spirit of his songs' intent. As anyone who knows Johnny will tell you, there's a tough side to the artist and a tender side, and when the two come together, musical magic happens. [Photo of Johnny Mandel above in 2011 by Marc Myers]
Today, I thought I'd click off nine tribute albums in chronological order and offer you a few clips. I don't think I've missed any that are completely devoted to Johnny's work, but if I have, please let me know:
Bill Perkins—Quietly There (Riverside/1966), featuring Victor Feldman.
Cal Tjader—The Shining Sea (Concord/1981), with Hank Jones.
Sue Raney—Sings the Music of Johnny Mandel (Discovery/1982), with the Bob Florence Trio.
Pinky Winters—The Shadow of Your Smile (Cellar Door/1983). Thanks to Joe Lang.
Zoot Sims—Quietly There (Pablo/1984).
Bill Watrous—A Time for Love (GNP Crescendo/1993).
Fred Hersch—Plays Johnny Mandel: I Never Told You (Varese Sarabande/1995). (Thanks Bill Kirchner.)
David Morgenroth—The Shadow of Your Smile (SSJ/2010), with Joe LaBarbera on drums.
DIVA Big Band—Man and His Music (Arbors/2011).
JazzWax clips: Here's The Shining Sea with Scott Hamilton and Hank Jones...
Here's Zoot Sims playing Cinnamon and Clove...
Here's Sue Raney singing A Time for Love...
And here's Bill Perkins on flute with Victor Feldman on vibes playing The Shadow of Your Smile...