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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 anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.