This classic album was recorded by Hoagy for Pacific Jazz in 1956, and featured the old music master doing his own songs backed by Johnny Mandel's charts and a killer band of Art Pepper, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Don Fagerquist and Jimmy Rowles. It's sublime. Includes Georgia on My Mind; Winter Moon; New Orleans; Memphis in June; Skylark; Two Sleepy People; Baltimore Oriole; Rockin' Chair; Ballad in Blue; Lazy River , and, as a bonus, an instrumental version of Georgia on My Mind .
In 1956, 57-year-old Hoagy Carmichael, a giant of American songsmiths, recorded this album for Hollywood's progressive Pacific Jazz label. Johnny Mandel
's swinging, uncluttered arrangements placed Carmichael, a product of the 1920s Jazz Age, in an unadulterated modern-jazz setting true to both his past and the current scene. Representing the latter were several top exponents of the West Coast school that the label helped nurture, most notably the principal soloist: alto sax giant Art Pepper
. Mandel's arrangements and Pepper's cool, rich eloquence clearly forced normally amiable, laid-back Carmichael to alter his usual approach somewhat. A subtle yet discernable edge permeated his interpretations of "Georgia on My Mind" and "Rockin' Chair" and rendered his vocal on the bluesy "Baltimore Oriole" unusually raw. Two lesser-known ballads, "Winter Moon" and "Ballad in Blue," are beautifully presented, and Mandel's joyously explosive, Basie
-esque "Lazy River" unleashed Carmichael's playful side. While his songs are timeless, hearing a man then pushing 60 having a ball with musicians old enough to be his kids is always both exhilarating and inspirational. --Rich Kienzle