Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (2009)



When Ying Tan told me that Jacintha’s second album for Groove Note would be a collection of Johnny Mercer songs, I felt a quickening of the pulse. Here surely would be a recital of rare sympathy: one of the most purely romantic of all lyricists interpreted by one of the most ravishingly beautiful voices to come along in jazz and popular music this last quarter century.

Few singers of standards display as much awareness of the performing traditions of the American popular song as this Singapore-born and raised jazz singer, whose first album for Groove Note paid explicit tribute to the great tenor saxophonist Ben Webster. But in her arrangement of the material and her approach, which placed primary importance upon the lyrics, the implicit acknowledgment was to Frank Sinatra, the greatest singer of the American popular song.

This new collection, however, finds her far more in the mode of a jazz singer, evoking the leading lady of the American popular song, Ella Fitzgerald.

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Jacintha is a popular vocalist, actress and journalist known for her performances and writing in both the United States and Singapore. She was born in 1957 to musician parents, the Sri Lankan classical guitarist Alex Abisheganaden, a recipient of the Cultural Medallion, and a Chinese mother who sang and played the piano. She studied piano and voice from her early teens and also sang in the Singapore Youth Choir, where she met her future collaborator Dick Lee.

Growing up, Jacintha listened to a wide variety of music – not only vocal jazz and traditional pop, but also artists who ranged from Stevie Wonder to Joni Mitchell to South African singer Miriam Makeba. Jacintha was a big fan of Brazilian bandleader Sergio Mendes during her upbringing. Jacintha was educated at Marymount Convent School, Raffles Institution and the National University of Singapore, where she graduated with an honors degree in English. She then went to America where she studied creative writing at Harvard University. Jacintha first came to prominence in 1976 when she won a local television talent contest, Talentime, singing jazz. She continued this winning streak in 1981, when she nabbed the Best Female Performer award for her role as Nurse Angamuthu in General Hospital at the Drama Festival.

In 1983, Jacintha released her debut album Silence. The new wave album, containing a cover of the Bee Gees' "Run to Me", was reviewed positively, with The Straits Times calling it "probably the most impressive debut album...from a local singer." In the mid-1990s, actor Lim Kay Tong introduced Jacintha to Ying Tan, who signed her to his Groove Note label. Her first jazz album was released in 1998: Here's To Ben – A Vocal Tribute To Ben Webster. Jacintha's second album for the Groove Note label, Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (1999) has seen the title track being used for TV series Alias, while the bonus track "Here's to Life" was used as the title track for the Hollywood movie Play It to the Bone.

In 2004, Jacintha performed her own cabaret jazz show, The Angina Monologues at the Old Parliament House, Singapore. In 2006, she served as a judge on the second season of Singapore Idol. In 2012, she returned to the stage after 13 years, playing herself in Ong Keng Sen's National Broadway Company, a musical commissioned for the Esplanade – Theatre on the Bay's 10th anniversary.

photo: from booklet 'The Girl from Bossa Nova'

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Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (2009)



    All About Jazz

For her sixth album, Jacintha pays homage to songwriter Johnny Mercer. Her warm, clear, delicate approach to storytelling enables the vocalist to deliver each favorite song in a comfortable manner with intimacy and charm. From Singapore, Jacintha has also had experience as an actress, enabling her to put herself into each situation as appropriate. A small ensemble culled from L.A.’s finest jazz accompanists backs her. Jacintha is at her best when incorporating her impeccable enunciation on "I Remember You" and when dipping into her rich lower vocal register for a loping arrangement of "Trav’lin’ Light." Her acting experience shines through "Here’s To Life" with added dramatic feeling. A clarion trumpet blends appropriately to signal the album’s close. Jacintha’s supportive partners lend authenticity to the history behind each song. Teddy Edwards, who shares the microphone for half the album, provides fluid, blues-based phrases. Anthony Wilson and Kei Akagi lend more than harmony in their respective roles with different chording instruments. The guitarist provides a lovely "Skylark" interlude, while pianist Akagi lends spontaneity in duet format to the well-worn "Moon River." Jacintha’s warm, fragile, sophisticated delivery makes for an honorable tribute and a recommended listening experience.

Jim Santella [read full review]

Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer (2009)



Analog Recording Equipment: Ampex ATR-100
Cables: AudioQuest
Digital Converters: Sony
Editing Software: Sony Sonoma DSD Workstation with DSD Wide
Mastering Engineer: Bernie Grundman
Microphones: AKG, Neumann, Sennheiser

We are pleased to announce the availability of Groove Note releases in DSD 128 and DSD 256, in addition to the original DSD 64 releases. These higher bit rate DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases are all pure DSD created by NativeDSD Mastering Engineer Tom Caulfield.

They are not up samplings, for there are no PCM or DXD conversions involved in their production. They are re-modulations of the original DSD 64 encoding modulation that produced the DSD 64 releases. The sonic advantage to these new Stereo and Multichannel DSD 128 and DSD 256 releases, as with all higher DSD bit rate releases, is the wider frequency passband prior to the onset of modulation noise.This results in the listener’s DAC using gentler and more phase linear filters for playback of the music.We are

Producer: Joe Harley
Recording Engineer: Michael C. Ross
Recording location: Cello Studios, Hollywood
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog

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Album Download duration price
GRV1006: Autumn Leaves: The Songs of Johnny Mercer
01:00:33   Select quality & channels above
And The Angels Sing
00:03:31   N/A
00:05:17   N/A
One For My Baby
00:05:19   N/A
Midnight Sun
00:03:54   N/A
Autumn Leaves
00:07:46   N/A
Days Of Wine & Roses
00:05:26   N/A
I Remember You
00:05:33   N/A
Trav'lin Light
00:06:30   N/A
Something's Gotta Give
00:04:04   N/A
Moon River
00:08:26   N/A
Here's To Life
00:04:47   N/A

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