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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

1940s Vocal Recordings Of Johnny Mercer

This week on Afterglow we’ll feature Johnny Mercer, a lyric writer for many American-songbook standards and the co-founder of Capitol Records

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Johnny Mercer's wry, laidback, and jazzy delivery helped create even more hits for Capitol Records, which was thriving in part because Mercer had signed the Nat King Cole trio.

This week on Afterglow we’ll feature the 1940s vocal recordings of Johnny Mercer. A lyric writer for many American-songbook standards, Mercer was also the co-founder of Capitol Records, and he frequently appeared as a singer on the label’s sessions throughout the early and mid-1940s; his wry, laidback, and jazzy delivery helped create even more hits for the young company (which was thriving in part because Mercer had signed the Nat King Cole trio).

We’ll hear him on songs such as “Surprise Party,” “Love’s Got Me in a Lazy Mood,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” as well as some of his own lyrics such as “Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home” and “One For My Baby (and One More for the Road).”

Other artists this time around include Tony Bennett, saxophonist Frank Morgan, Cassandra Wilson, Mark Murphy, and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.

Music Heard On This Episode

Maria
Oscar Peterson — West Side Story (Verve, 1962)
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Maria
Oscar Peterson — West Side Story (Verve, 1962)
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More Than This
Norah Jones/Charlie Hunter — Songs From the Analog Playground (Blue Note, 2001)

Notes: Roxy Music song.

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Spanish Tinge #2
Jaki Byard — Solo/Strings (Prestige, 1969)
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A Stranger Called the Blues
June Christy — Something Cool (Capitol, 1955)

Notes: Mel Torme song.

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Get Out of Town
J.J. Johnson — J.J. Johnson and Voices (Columbia, 1960)
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You Never Told Me That You Cared
Anat Cohen — Noir (Anzic, 2007)

Notes: New release. Sun Ra song.

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Until the Real Thing Comes Along
Jimmy Witherspoon — Goin' to Kansas City Blues (Mosaic, 1958)
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I Know Why (and So Do You)
Red Garland — Red Garland's Piano (Prestige, 1957)
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Tonight
Jackie Paris — The Song Is Paris (Impulse, 1962)
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Cool
Bill Charlap — Somewhere (Blue Note, 2004)
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Something's Coming
Chris Connor — At the Village Gate (Roulette Jazz, 1963)
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I Feel Pretty
Stan Kenton — West Side Story (Capitol, 1961)
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Gee, Officer Krupke
Stan Kenton — West Side Story (Capitol, 1961)
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This Guy's in Love With You
Till Bronner — Oceana (Decca, 2007)

Notes: Burt Bacharach-Hal David song.

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Yesterdays
Billie Holiday — Comp. Commodore Recordings (GRP/Commodore, 1939)
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Claudia
Benny Carter — A Man Called Adam (FSM, 1966)
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Alexander's Ragtime Band
Bing Crosby/Al Jolson — Bing: The Legendary Years 1931-1957 (Decca, 1947)
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Jet Song
Oscar Peterson — West Side Story (Verve, 1962)
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Cool
Lea Delaria — Play It Cool (Warner Bros., 2001)

Notes: With Brad Mehldau on piano.

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America
Bill Charlap — Somewhere (Blue Note, 2004)
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Something's Coming
Stan Kenton — West Side Story (Capitol, 1961)
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Maria
Dave Brubeck — Plays Music From West Side Story and... (Columbia, 1960)
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There Is No Greater Love
Miles Davis — Four & More (Columbia, 1964)
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Somewhere
Bill Charlap — Somewhere (Blue Note, 2004)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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