Mosaic Select: Johnny Mercer
The world has been waiting for a digital-era box set focusing on Johnny Mercer, and the Mosaic label -- which has obliged countless times for other vital jazz artists -- comes through again. A three-disc collection scanning Mercer's recordings for Capitol (the label he founded), Mosaic Select: Johnny Mercer purposefully concerns itself with his "jazz flavored" releases between 1942 and 1947, close to a third of which turn out to be transcription sessions. (Granted, all of these were recorded with a full band and compare favorably to the other sides.) Mercer's pop hits are understandably neglected (only "G.I. Jive" and "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" are present), and listeners should prepare for a parade of excellent unreleased or long unavailable sides -- more than 20 in all -- featuring bands led by Wingy Manone (including an uproarious "The Tailgate Ramble"), Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Cootie Williams, and most often, Paul Weston. Mercer's way with a novelty vocal is infectious, and now that it's arrived, it's hard to quibble. Granted, this is more of the Georgia gentleman's riches than have appeared on three discs.