By Bruce Sylvester
Johnny Mercer Sings Just For Fun
A master craftsman of The Great American Songbook (here, for example, “Blues In The Night” and “Accentuate The Positive”), Georgia-born Mercer (1909-1974) included other songsmiths’ wit on his own pop/jazz recordings.
Always unearthing jewel-like pop obscurities, London-based Sepia Records (www.sepiarecords.com) follows up Mercer (and The Pied Pipers’) delightful “Dream Team” with the well-annotated, 29-song “Johnny Mercer Sings Just For Fun.”
It starts with a playful, 10-song 1957 album of that title on Jupiter, the label Mercer started after selling his founder’s share of Capitol Records. The CD also has 1940s Capitol singles, plus demos of nine Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael co-writes — with Carmichael on piano — for a never-completed 1950 film project.
Four duets with pianist Andre Previn come from 1974 stage musical “The Good Companions.” My personal fave, 1947’s “The First Baseball Game,” retells Bible stories using ball terminology.