The song of the day for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 is “That Old Black Magic.”
About This Song
One of the great songs by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, “That Old Black Magic” was written in 1942 and first recorded by Glenn Miller. It was also used in the 1942 movie Star Spangled Rhythm. It’s been recorded many times and used in several films, including the 1956 film Bus Stop, where it was sung by Marilyn Monroe.
About This Version
Today’s version of “That Old Black Magic” is one my very favorite of all of Tony Bennett’s recordings. It’s from the Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962 concert that was just released last year. This recording is one four songs with Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck on piano, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums that were totally improvised. The result pretty close to perfect for this author.
As I mentioned yesterday, we are celebrating Johnny Mercer Week here at The Year of Tony Bennett. Mercer was born on this day in 1909 in Savannah, Georgia. He came from a prominent Southern family with a long heritage; his great-grandfather was a Confederate General in the Civil War and was also direct descendent of General Hugh Mercer, a soldier-physician during the Revolutionary War.
In 1860, his great-grandfather began to build the Mercer House in Savannah, though General Mercer did not live to see the house finished. Johnny Mercer or his parents never lived in the house either. Fans of the book or movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil may remember that Jim Williams lived and entertained at the Mercer House.
Young Johnny Mercer showed musical aptitude as a child; both of his parents enjoyed singing. He was also exposed to the African-American community in Savannah. As a teenager during the Jazz Age in the 1920s, he collected the recordings of the great African-American singers, including Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong.
… to be continued …
For more information about Johnny Mercer, please visit the Johnny Mercer Foundation website.
“That Old Black Magic,” as well as Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962, is available from iTunes.