1 Too Marvelous For Words 02:54
2 Acc Cent Chu Ate the Positive 03:17
3 Blues in the Night 04:25
4 That Old Black Magic 02:50
5 I Wanna Be Around 02:43
6 Goody Goody 03:34
7 Jeepers Creepers 02:31
8 The Glow Worm 02:04
9 Moon River/The Days of Wine and Roses 04:04
10 G.I. Jive 02:46
11 P.S. I Love You 02:18
12 One For My Baby 05:25
JOHN BAUERS piano and vocals
VANESSA PEREA vocals
DAVE POST bass
PAUL PIZZUTI drums (1 - 6, 8, 9, 11)
DAVID LONGWORTH drums (7, 10)
MATT TEITLEMAN drums (12)
GEORGE NAHA guitar
ROBERT EDWARDS trombone
ALEX JEUN trombone (1, 2, 5, 6, 8)
PAUL TAFOYA trumpet (1, 2, 5, 6, 8)
CARLOS FRANCIS trumpet and Flugelhorn (1, 2, 5, 6, 8)
RICH POLATCHEK trumpet (3, 4, 7, 9, 10)
AUDREY WELBER alto sax (1, 2, 5, 6, 8)
MICHAEL WEISBERGER tenor & alto sax (10)
JOHN DISANTO baritone sax
BRIAN BAUERS, ASHLEY BAUERS vocals (2)
This labor of love for Johnny Mercer and his work began on the day I was born. Johnny and I share the birthday of Nov. 18 and as a youngster I revered him as my most accomplished birthday brother. On the occasion of his 100th Birthday, in 2009, I was asked to be music director and arranger for a Mercer show that my buddy James Alexander was putting together. Digging into the music, I was transfixed. I picked up every bio of Johnny I could find, learned as many songs as I could, and when James moved on, I brought the show idea to bandleader Dave Post of Swingadelic, and we ran with it. We enlisted Vanessa Perea, the sublime vocalist featured on this recording and we started doing shows all over the New York area at concert venues, libraries, theaters, senior centers, wherever they would have us. We told the story of Johnny’s life and the stories of his songs, which struck a chord with our audiences. This CD is an attempt to recreate some of that magic we feel when we go onstage and perform this great music.
Too Marvelous for Words: Johnny could have written this about his gifts as a lyricist, and it is a signature tune in his repertoire. The lyrics that Vanessa sings at the top of her verse are Johnny’s and were included in the 1937 movie from which this tune came “Ready, Willing, and Able.” Music by Richard Whiting, father of the great Margaret Whiting.
Acc Cent Chu Ate the Positive: one of the wonderful collaborations between Johnny and Harold Arlen. Johnny got the idea for this lyric from a sermon he heard a preacher named Daddy Grace give back in his hometown of Savannah. Johnny was not without his personal problems, but he was a beautiful cat and generous to a fault. This is a favorite among the dancers and sing-a-longers in the audience.
Blues in the Night: Harold Arlen wrote this music for a 1941 movie originally called Hot Nocturne, but released as “Blues in the Night” to match the song name, not the first or last time this happened with Johnny. George Naha adds some bluesy magic with his guitar.
That Old Black Magic: Harold Arlen again. This tune was widely known in Hollywood as one of the songs inspired by Johnny’s notorious affair with Judy Garland, which was on-again off-again for nearly 30 years. The song oozes the sexual tension the two felt the first time they met at a party thrown by Bob Hope. With a nod to Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and Sam Butera.
I Wanna Be Around: Johnny received a letter from a Youngstown, Ohio housewife named Sadie Vimmerstedt with an idea for a song based on her disapproval of Frank Sinatra for having left his wife Nancy for Ava Gardner. The first line of the song is Sadie’s, then Johnny finished the lyric and wrote the music to one of the great revenge songs of all time. Sadie received full writer’s credit and royalties, and became quite the celebrity in Youngstown when Tony Bennett had a big hit with this in 1963. Featuring Robert Edwards on the trombone.
Goody Goody: written with Matty Melneck in 1936, another great revenge song, Vanessa rockin’ this one, with Audrey Welber featured on clarinet.
Jeepers Creepers: written with Harry Warren for the 1938 film “Going Places”. The song is played and sung in the film by Louis Armstrong who portrays a horse trainer who uses the song to calm the nerves of a skittish racehorse. The producers liked the song so much they renamed the horse Jeepers Creepers in the film.
Alternate CD cover design for MERCERVILLE by Al Gold.
The Glow Worm: music by Paul Lincke, who wrote it for a 1902 German operetta “Lysistrata”. The original English lyric by Lilla Cayley Robinson was a hit in 1907. Johnny writes a hip, jazzy version of the lyric in 1952, reimagining the tune as a swinging coming of age reverie, and it becomes a hit for the Mills Brothers. One of many foreign language hits for which Johnny wrote English lyrics.
Moon River/The Days of Wine and Roses: written with Henry Mancini, these tunes briefly revived Johnny’s flagging career in the early 60’s. They won back-to-back Academy Awards in 1961 and 1962, and Moon River won a Grammy in 1962 for Song of the Year. Both songs explore memory, the first a youthful reverie about idyllic childhood on Savannah’s Back River (later named Moon River for the song), the latter a darker memory of a life gone wrong, longing for a better time.
G.I. Jive: Johnny wrote words and music on this one. It was a big hit for Louis Jordan during World War II and a great example of Johnny’s gift for taking the vernacular (in this case, military acronyms) and making a great lyric out of it. Michael Weisberger nails Louis’ solo from that recording.
P.S. I Love You: Paul McCartney wanted to collaborate on a song or two with Johnny in the 70’s, but Johnny was in poor health at the time with a brain tumor that would eventually take his life and turned Paul down. Here we imagine how a collaboration might have sounded, or felt. Co-writers are Gordon Jenkins and John Lennon.
One for My Baby: the quintessential saloon song, this memorializes Johnny’s feelings for Judy Garland when she ran off and eloped during the first phase of their long relationship. It also speaks to Johnny’s own struggles with alcohol abuse. Music by the great Harold Arlen. -- John Bauers
Produced by Brian Bauers and John Bauers. Recorded at Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, NJ (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8); CAL Recording Studio at Stevens Institute of Technology (Tracks 3, 4, 7, 9 - 12); Brian Bauers Music Studio (Overdubs). Recording Engineers: Brian Bauers, Kyle Cassel, Jeremy Delany (Kaleidoscope), Dan Aleman, Robert Kessler (Stevens). Mixed by Brian Bauers. Mastered by Maria Triana. Art direction and package design by Al Gold. Executive producer: Dave Post.