Jacintha – Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (1999)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 01:00:33 minutes | 2,39 GB | Genre: Jazz
Source: ISO SACD| © Groove Note Records
Recorded: October 3-4, 1999
The Groove Note Records team of Joe Harley (producer), Mike Ross (engineer) and Ying Tan (executive producer) join forces once again to orchestrate the second release from the label’s first artist Jacintha. Autumn Leaves is a collection of twelve songs from Johnny Mercer.
‘Autumn Leaves’ finds Jacintha in excellent form and, once again, delivering several strong performances on many of the songs. One of the highlights of the album is the title track which finds Jacintha singing in the original French intro and first verse as well as the later Johnny Mercer English lyrics.
We weren’t the only ones impressed with Jacintha’s vocal prowess, she also caught the attention of Bordertown Pictures (Touchstone Pictures) and a team arrived during the recording session to capture a brand new version of the Grammy-award winning song ‘Here’s To Life.’ With Jacintha featured on vocals and the backing of Kei Akagi (piano), Teddy Edwards (tenor sax), Larance Marable (drums), Joe La Barbera (drums) and Darek Oles (bass) the musicianship on the recording is fantastic. Artie Butler, the Grammy winning composer of ‘Here’s To Life’ was also in attendance and played the Hammond B-3 organ on the track! The song was featured in the opening title sequence for the Ron Shelton film ‘Play It To The Bone.’
‘Play It To The Bone,’ by Touchstone Pictures (a division of the Disney Corp.,) is directed by Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup, Blaze, White Men Can’t Jump) and stars Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson and Lolita Davidovich. The film was released nationwide on January 14, 2000.
The album was recorded live direct to 2-track and was mastered using Sony’s new Direct Stream Digital (DSD) process by Bernie Grundman in Hollywood to produce an album of true audiophile quality sound.
Nine of the 11 tracks here are ballads. Their uncluttered arrangements spotlight Jacintha’s smooth and sensuous voice, while her expressive phrasing draws the most from the classic Johnny Mercer lyrics. Jacintha includes the original lyrics to “Autumn Leaves,” done in soft and flawless French; otherwise, her primary innovation is to deliver the tunes straight and sincerely, with minimal improvisation and maximum tenderness. There’s no trace of the customary bitterness in “One More for the Road,” and her unaccompanied reading of “Moon River” liberates that song from any prior goopy associations. In fact, her version brings out the poignancy of the lyrics so purely that her additional chorus, coming after a rather wandering piano interlude, seems redundant. The band is good but pretty restrained throughout, supplying subtle commentary and close support, then breaks out nicely on the two up-tempo tracks: “And the Angels Sing” and “Something’s Got to Give.” Jacintha’s measured, legato approach isn’t very conducive to swinging, but listening to “Skylark”and “Midnight Sun,” in particular, is like sipping cool champagne in a fragrant hot tub. Another highlight is the bonus track, “Here’s to Life,” a signature tune for Shirley Horn, which Jacintha takes at a slightly faster tempo. While it’s not a Mercer lyric, its beautiful sentiments and melody fit nicely into this relaxed and intimate set. Whatever this CD may lack in fire, it makes up for in warmth. –Judith Schlesinger, AllMusic
For her sixth album, Jacintha pays homage to songwriter Johnny Mercer. Her warm, clear, delicate approach to storytelling enables the vocalist to deliver each favorite song in a comfortable manner with intimacy and charm. From Singapore, Jacintha has also had experience as an actress, enabling her to put herself into each situation as appropriate. A small ensemble culled from L.A.’s finest jazz accompanists backs her.
Jacintha is at her best when incorporating her impeccable enunciation on “I Remember You” and when dipping into her rich lower vocal register for a loping arrangement of “Trav’lin’ Light.” Her acting experience shines through “Here’s To Life” with added dramatic feeling. A clarion trumpet blends appropriately to signal the album’s close. Jacintha’s supportive partners lend authenticity to the history behind each song. Teddy Edwards, who shares the microphone for half the album, provides fluid, blues-based phrases. Anthony Wilson and Kei Akagi lend more than harmony in their respective roles with different chording instruments. The guitarist provides a lovely “Skylark” interlude, while pianist Akagi lends spontaneity in duet format to the well-worn “Moon River.” While she’s not always convincing on slower ballads, Jacintha’s warm, fragile, sophisticated delivery makes for an honorable tribute and a recommended listening experience. –Jim Santella, All About Jazz
1 And The Angels Sing 3:29
2 Skylark 5:16
3 One For My Baby 5:17
4 Midnight Sun 3:54
5 Autumn Leaves 7:44
6 Days Of Wine And Roses 5:26
7 I Remember You 5:33
8 Trav’lin Light 6:30
9 Something’s Gotta Give 4:03
10 Moon River 8:26
11 Here’s To Life (Soundtrack Mix) 4:47
Jacintha – vocals
Teddy Edwards – tenor saxophone
Kei Akagi – piano
Darek Oles – bass
Larance Marable, Joe LaBarbera – drums
Anthony Wilson – guitar
Will Miller – trumpet