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Daryl Sherman Pays Tribute To Johnny Mercer On Piano Jazz

Daryl Sherman visits <em>Piano Jazz</em> for a show in tribute to Johnny Mercer.
Courtesy of the artist
Daryl Sherman visits Piano Jazz for a show in tribute to Johnny Mercer.

Piano Jazz welcomes pianist and singer Daryl Sherman. The ineffable performer has played most of New York's jazz spots, cabarets and supper clubs since arriving in the city in the mid 1970s.

Sherman just recently wrapped a 14-year run at the Waldorf Astoria's Cocktail Terrace, where her performances of music from the American Popular Songbook — on Cole Porter's hand-painted Steinway no less — transported audiences back to the fabled elegance of mid-20th century Manhattan. As it turns out, Sherman tells Marian McPartland how she landed that gig on the very same day as her first appearance on Piano Jazz in 1994.

In her third Piano Jazz appearance, Sherman has Johnny Mercer in mind. The music world will celebrate the centennial of the Savannah-born lyricist, composer and Capitol Records founder later this year. Sherman kicks off an all-Mercer program with a couple of tunes demonstrating the songwriter's mastery of his craft — "Too Marvelous for Words" and "Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight)."

Mercer's catalogue includes more than 1,700 songs, with well-known hits such as "Jeepers Creepers" (to which Sherman sings the lesser heard verse) as well as more obscure gems like "Moon Country," a tune co-written with Hoagie Carmichael that extols the virtues of rural life. Mercer also provided the lyric to one of McPartland's most performed tunes, "Twilight World," and Sherman's wistful take on the lyric is perfectly paired with McPartland's gently swinging accompaniment. Sherman ends the hour with "I'm Building Up to an Awful Letdown," a tune with music by Fred Astaire and lyrics by Mercer.

Originally recorded Sept. 8, 2008.

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David Lyon