Concord´s Mancini Tribute

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Concord Records has done us all a huge favor with its new release, ULTIMATE MANCINI, a complilation of some of the famed Hollywood composer's most memorable pieces, ranging from The Pink Panther Theme (featuring Plas Johnson, tenor sax; Joey DeFrancesco (Hammon B-3); and Gary Burton, vibraphone) to the Peter Gunn Suite: Dreamsville to Days of Wine and Roses, from the movie of the same name, sung by Monica Mancini, the maestro's daughter.

Monica also solos on "Two for the Road," "Moment to Moment" and "Dear Heart," among others. With her warm, heartfelt and lovely voice and impeccable phrasing, she helps make ULTIMATE MANCINI the triumph it is. (Monica can be heard on two other Concord releases, Cinema Paradiso and The Dreams of Johnny Mercer).

On "Moon River" (which Mancini co-wrote with Mercer), the vocals are handled by Take 6 backed up by Stevie Wonder's classic harmonica solo. On Dreamsville Monica is joined in a vocal duet by Kenny Rankin.

Mancini was a master of the romantic ballad, but it's good to be also reminded of his jazz-textured, jaunty treatments of Crazy World (from "Victor/Victoria") and It's Easy to Say (from "10").

All seventeen cuts on the CD were produced with triple-A musical values, especially those backed up by the 65-piece Mancini orchestra, conducted by Patrick Williams.