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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

The Songwriter Sings: A Celebration of Johnny Mercer

Afterglow kicks off a month-long celebration of songwriter Johnny Mercer's centennial with a program featuring his 1940s vocal recordings.

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Johnny Mercer Album Cover

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Johnny Mercer was the the co-founder of Capitol Records and a lyric writer for many American-songbook standards. He frequently appeared as a singer on the label’s sessions throughout the early and mid-1940s.

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, laid-back, 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

And I Love Him
Sarah Vaughan — Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival--Highlights, V. 1 (MJF Records, 1971)
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And I Love Him
Sarah Vaughan — Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival--Highlights, V. 1 (MJF Records, 1971)

Notes: Lennon-McCartney song.

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Out of This World
Tony Bennett — Jazz (Columbia, 1964)

Notes: With Stan Getz on tenor sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Elvin Jones on drums.

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It's Only a Paper Moon
Frank Morgan — A Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Standard V. 3 (HighNote, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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Darkness on the Delta
Cassandra Wilson — Belly of the Sun (Blue Note, 2002)
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Ode to Angela
Bobby Hutcherson — For Sentimental Reasons (Kind of Blue, 2007)

Notes: New release. Harold Land composition.

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Tonight May Have to Last Me All My Life
Nancy Wilson — Ballads, Blues, and Big Bands (Capitol, 1964)

Notes: Lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

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Blue Bossa
Art Farmer — The Time and the Place/The Lost Concert (Mosaic, 1966)
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Surprise Party
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1945)
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Love's Got Me in a Lazy Mood
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1944)
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It Ain't Necessarily So
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1944)
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Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1946)

Notes: Co-written by Mercer and Harold Arlen.

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Mindin' My Business
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1946)

Notes: With the Pied Pipers.

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For Sentimental Reasons
Bobby Hutcherson — For Sentimental Reasons (Kind of Blue, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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My Foolish Heart
Mark Murphy — Love Is What Stays (Verve, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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On Green Dolphin Street
Frank Morgan — A Night in the Life: Live at the Jazz Standard, V. 3 (HighNote, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1946)

Notes: Johnny Mercer-Harold Arlen.

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It Takes Time
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1947)
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Moon Faced, Starry Eyed
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1947)

Notes: Langston Hughes-Kurt Weill song.

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Tallahassee
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1947)

Notes: With the Pied Pipers.

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Cecelia
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1947)

Notes: With the Pied Pipers.

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Box Car Blues
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1947)

Notes: With Wingy Manone.

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Embraceable You
Bobby Hutcherson — For Sentimental Reasons (Kind of Blue, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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All Across the City
Bill Charlap — Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 2007)

Notes: New release.

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Baby, I'm True to You
Johnny Mercer — Mosaic Select (Mosaic, 1946)
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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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