The canon gifted us by composer Johnny Mandel, whether film scores, television themes or individual compositions, is bathed in distinctive melodic beauty. And, both memorable and lesser-known Mandel selections offer lyrics from some of the greatest wordsmiths of our timeJohnny Mercer, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Dave Frishberg, and others. Thus the material presented in Solitary Moon -by its very nature -warrants nothing less than a superbly-delivered interpretation. Anything even a hair less simply does not cut the Mandel mustard.
In this marvelous tribute to the Master, vocalist Ginger Berglund and trombonist/vocalist Scott Whitfielda team supreme -have grabbed heaping handfuls of Mandel's works, superbly arranged them and handed them over to and lead some of the country's finest players, soloists and vocalists. From the kickoff samba "Cinnamon & Clove" through Berglund's gorgeous straightforward rendering of "The Shadow of Your Smile," the darker "I Never Told You," and on through fifteen Johnny gems, the result is an hour-plus of musical joy. The inclusion of guest soloists clarinetist Ken Peplowski, guitarist Jack Petersen and percussionist Airto Moreira, in addition to the group's outstanding core soloists, is a stroke of arranging and production brilliance.
The melodic and lyrical themes here speak of romance and relationships. And, images of quiet moonlit beaches, sea-surf and Nature's symphonies resonate through many of the selections. Through all Berglund and Whitfield are vocal and instrumental perfection. They no doubt draw compares to Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, however, this pairhusband and wife, as well soars joyously on their own over the wonderful "Mandelodies," embracing and making the utmost of the magical content. They also join outstanding guest vocalists, "The Modernaires" (a modern iteration of the Glenn Miller Orcherstra vocalists)on the luscious a capella "Where Do You Start," as well as "LAVA" (Los Angeles Vocal Alliance) on the classic "Emily" and "El Cajon." It all works divinely.
While suicide might be painless, with Solitary Moon Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield and all of the performers here generously offer us a most enjoyable musical smash for the senses. Bathe in it.
Cinnamon & Clove; Little Did I Dream; Solitary Moon; First; The shadow of Your Smile; El Cajon; Close Enough for Love; A Waltz from somewhere; Where Do You start?; Vacation from the Blues; You Are There; Sure As You're Born; I Never Told You; Emily; I Won't Believe My eyes.
Ginger Berglund: voice; Scott whitfield: voice, trombone; Airto Moreira: persussion; Anne King: trumpet, flugelhorn; Billy Kerr: alto sax; Carl Saunders: trumpet; Corey Allen: piano; Don shelton: clarinet; Ira Nepus: trombone; Jack Petersen: guitar; Jamie Hovorka: trumpet; Jennifer Leitham: bass; John Dickson: horn; Ken Peplowski: clarinet; Kendall Kaye: drums; Kye Palmer: trumpet; Linda Small: trombone; Nancy Newman: baritone sax; Pete Christlieb: tenor sax; Rich Bullock: bass trombone; Roger Neumann: tenor sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Rusty Higgins: alto sax, flute, alto clarinet; Stephanie O'Keefe: hoen; Steve Huffsteter: trumpet; "The Modernaires" (Julie dickinson, Ginger Berglund, Jimmy Stephens, Joe Croyle, Scott Whitfield); "LAVA" (Los Angeles Vocal Alliance (Jonathan Dane; Larry Williams; Scott Whitfield, Rich Bullock).