Concord Records Releases Ultimate Mancini in SACD Surround Sound

Concord Records has released a tribute to film composer and musician Henry Mancini in SACD Surround Sound entitled Ultimate Mancini. The album features the composer’s daughter Monica Mancini along with a 65 piece orchestra and an all star cast of musicians performing 17 of her father’s best known compositions.

The SACD liner notes comment that “Henry Mancini is an American icon. Now with the 80th anniversary of his birth and the issuing of a commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service, singer Monica Mancini and guest artists including Stevie Wonder, Take 6, Tom Scott, Kenny Rankin, Joe DeFrancesco, Gary Burton and Saxophonoist Plas Johnson, who updates his classic recording of the Pink Panther join together to celebrate Hank’s greatest Oscar and Grammy nominated hits. Concord Records invites you to join in the celebration of the definitive Hollywood composer and the definitive Mancini collection (in spectacular Multichannel SACD Surround Sound).”

Album Selections
1. The Pink Panther Theme (SACD Edition – Extended Version) – with Plas Johnson (Tenor Sax), Joey DeFrancesco (Organ) & Gary Burton (Vibes)
2. Charade
3. Two For The Road – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
4. Moon River – with Stevie Wonder (Harmonica) & Take 6 (Vocals)
5. Moment To Moment – with Monica Mancini (Vocals) & Tom Scott (Alto Sax)
6. Days Of Wine And Roses – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
7. Peter Gunn Theme – with Tom Scott (Alto Sax)
8. Dreamsville – with Monica Mancini & Kenny Rankin (Vocal Duet) & Tom Scott (Alto Sax)
9. Dear Heart – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
10. The Thorn Birds Theme
11. Anywhere The Heart Goes (Meggie’s Theme) – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
12. Mr. Lucky – with Joey DeFrancesco (Organ)
13. Whistling Away The Dark – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
14. Movie Medley: Life In A Looking Glass (from That’s Life) – with Michael Lang (Piano)
15. Movie Medley: Crazy World (from Victor/Victoria) – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
16. Movie Medley: It’s Easy To Say (from 10) – with Michael Lang (Piano)
17. Music On The Way – with Monica Mancini (Vocals)
18. Soldier In The Rain (SACD Edition – Bonus Track)

Album Credits and Sonics
The Surround Sound SACD edition of Ultimate Mancini was produced by Gregg Field (who also happens to be Monica Mancini’s husband) and the music was conducted by Patrick Williams using many Henry Mancini’s original orchestrations and arrangements on most selections. The SACD was recorded and mixed for Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound by veteran recording engineer Al Schmitt who was the engineer on Mancini’s original recordings of these songs on the RCA label in the 1970’s. DSD Engineering was handled by Kaspar Hugentobler and the SACD 5.1 Surround Sound track was mastered by Doug Sax and James Guthrie at Das Boot Recording in South Lake Tahoe.

As noted above, the SACD edition of Ultimate Mancini is similar to the Stereo CD edition with the exception of an extended version of The Pink Panther (song 1) and a bonus song (Solider In The Rain – Song 18). The 5.1 Surround Sound mix by Al Schmitt spreads the full orchestra around the room on songs including Charade and The Thorn Birds Theme. On The Pink Panther, Plas Johnson’s sax solo and the bass are featured in the front channels while the drums and percussion are featured in the surrounds as the song starts up. Mr. Lucky features an interesting Organ solo by Joey DeFrancesco that veers from the song’s original organ solo while the arrangement of Moon River with Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Take 6 on vocals is a treat.

An SACD in a Super Deluxe Jewel Box?
Hi Rez audio fans will be a bit surprised by the packaging of this new SACD Surround Sound disc as it comes in a Super Deluxe Jewel Box which usually is for 5.1 DTS Music Discs and DVD Audio discs. In fact, I think this is the first time that an SACD has appeared in this type of package rather than a smaller Deluxe Jewel Box (with the familiar rounded corners), a standard CD Jewel Box or a Digipak. It will be interesting to see if Concord’s next SACD Surround Sound release, Genius Loves Company by Ray Charles and a host of guest singers (Concord Records SACD-1033-6), due out on September 13th, appears in a Super Deluxe Jewel Box or more conventional SACD packaging.

The Surround Sound SACD edition of Ultimate Mancini is now available in music stores including Best Buy. It is also available on web sites that carry SACDs including Acoustic Sounds, CD Universe and Music Direct.