Jazz Vocals

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The Mancini Genes

11 APR 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Building the set of an album around a unifying theme is a common way to organize repertoire. When double-Grammy nominee Monica Mancini recorded an album of movie music, Cinema Paradiso, it was in the genes.

Her father is composer Henry Mancini, considered to be the leading light of the modern film soundtrack. Paradiso is her third album for Concord Records following acclaimed tributes to her father and lyricist Johnny Mercer.

Opening with the title cut, the lush sounds of a full string orchestra fill the spaces around Mancini's warm voice. Drummer/producer Gregg Field, her music director and husband, wrote English lyrics for "Cinema Paradiso" especially for this recording.

At first glance, the styles of the represented movies are disparate. Offbeat '60s-era love stories Alfie and The Sandpiper share the bill with family favorites The Wizard Of Oz and Dumbo. But there's a method in the madness for the tempo and tenor of their themes share a mood of bittersweet romanticism.

Mancini sings with a low-key earnestness, showing a respect for the melody and lyric that stems, no doubt, not only from her celebrated father but also from the influence of her mother Virginia, a former big band and studio singer in her own right.

Going into the family business, whether music or mushroom farming, can be an emotional minefield. Successive generations start on a higher rung but are also saddled with higher expectations and responsibilities. Mancini polishes the legacy with which she has been entrusted, carrying on the work of making beautiful, accessible music.