Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Johnny Mandel: Johnny Mandel: The Man and His Music

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

How fitting that Johnny Mandel, 84 when he squired this set recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, showcases drummer Sherrie Maricle and her 15-piece, all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra. This is an informal, delightfully live retrospective spanning Mandel’s work with Count Basie, Woody Herman and in film. That he chose so feminine a vehicle to convey his swinging artistry makes sense, given the alluring nature of his melodies, like the classic “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “Black Nightgown,” backdrop to a classic, sexy scene spotlighting Susan Hayward in I Want to Live, a daring 1958 film sporting a great Mandel score. (And it’s weird how close “Black Nightgown” is in tone, edge and tempo to Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther.”)

Not only does The Man and His Music highlight Mandel’s invigorating voicing, deploying brass to propel the stomping “Not Really the Blues” and unfurling flutes for an invigorating “Shadow,” it makes use of DIVA’s full range. In addition, guest vocalist Ann Hampton Callaway, who can sound forced, plays pretty piano on “Where Do You Start,” segueing into an unexpectedly exciting Mandel arrangement of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business.” Callaway is positively exuberant on “Business,” one of the most vibrant tracks. Another: the frenetic mambo “Cinnamon & Clove.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published