Various Artists: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (OST) (1997)
As a means of telling one of the most infamous stories of Savannah, Georgia, jazz student/director/actor Clint Eastwood has chosen the works of one of themost famous natives of this fabled southern city, Mr. Johnny Mercer. Not only have he and producer Matt Pierson picked some of the most beautiful and beloved selections of the Great American Songbook, but the pair have also enlisted some of the greatest musical talents to perform them. In addition to older masters such as Tony Bennett, Joe Williams and Rosemary Clooney (who easily earns the honors of the films featured chestnut, "Fools Rush In"), the album features a collection of younger talents from the world of Jazz such as Cassandra Wilson, Kevin Mahogony, Joshua Redman and Diana Krall and a number of crooners and tunesmiths from other genres, such as k.d. lang, Alison Krauss and Paula Cole.
In addition, Mr. Eastwood himself steps up to the mike to run the appropriately chosen "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" through his smoky vocal clips. In an effort to prevent the award-winning director from having all the spotlight, leading man Kevin Spacey and Mr. Eastwood's daughter Alison (who also stars and sings in the film) also take turns in the studio.
With the keyboard work of Brad Mehldau and a backing band which includes the likes of Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, Kevin Eubanks and a host of others, this album would have to try to fail. The high points (which are high indeed) include lang's lush orchestrel flow through "Skylark," Cole's sonorous head-voice rendition of "Autumn Leaves," Krauss' beguiling offering of "This Time The Dream's On Me" and, of course, Bennett's version of "I Wanna Be Around," which has every bit of swing and sting as it did when it was recorded in 1962. While Oscar-winner Spacey is a trained vocalist, and while the song is especially germaine to his voodoo-lovin' character in Midnight, his spoken-song lounge-act swing through "That Old Black Magic" argues for his continued success in acting. Contrarily, the younger Eastwood's twangy torch of "Come Rain Or Come Shine" demonstrates that the Eastwood musical apple has not fallen at all. Clint has made our day again, and we should all feel lucky, Punk!
Track Listing: 1. Skylark - k.d. lang 2. Too Marvelous for Words - Joe Williams 3. Autumn Leaves - Paula Cole 4. Fools Rush in (Where Angels Fear to Tread) - Rosemary Clooney 5. Dream - Brad Mehldau 6. Days of Wine and Roses - Cassandra Wilson 7. That Old Black Magic - Kevin Spacey 8. Come Rain or Come Shine - Alison Eastwood 9. AC-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive - Clint Eastwood 10. This Time the Dream's on Me - Alison Krauss 11. Laura - Kevin Mahogany 12. Midnight Sun - Diana Krall 13. I'm an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) - Joshua Redman 14. I Wanna Be Around - Tony Bennett