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.
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 seven 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.
I love jazz because it's been a life's work.
I was first exposed to jazz by my father.
I met Hampton Hawes.
The best show I ever attended was Les McCann.
The first jazz record I bought was Herbie Hancock.
My advice to new listeners is to listen at a comfortable volume.