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Henry Mancini was the king of the Grammies. He reigned far above the field on a pile of awards for years until Quincy Jones recently took the crown. This says much about both Mancini and the organization. Both are dedicated to mainstream, carefully crafted melodic pop—the kind of “pop” that bears little of the influence of John, Paul, George, or Elvis. Like his successor, Jones, Mancini brought a jazz appreciation to his TV and film scores, where a classical approach had been the norm. The true mark of Mancini’s brilliance is that his music not only fit so precisely with those many movies, it also thrives on its own. The man’s range was stunning: “The Pink Panther Theme,” “Peter Gunn,” “Moon River,” and the score to Touch of Evil, to name a very few examples. This excellent disc collects those songs and 16 more, performed by a mixture of heartfelt traditionalists and cheeky experimentalists. Both camps prove winning. In the former category, Four Piece Suit gives the bouncy “Something for Cat” a throaty saxuality, the Friends of Dean Martinez offer a respectful “Lonesome,” and the members of The Wonderful World of Joey croon “Days of Wine and Roses” as if they mean it. The Boardwalkers’ brash “Banzai Pipeline” is much more electric than Hank might have cared for, but the song survives nicely. Br. Cleve and His Lush Orchestra add NASA transmissions and spacey effects to the dreamy “Dreamsville.” Unlike most tribute albums, this collection works as a whole. Still, the standout is Nan Vernon’s haunting “Moon River,” which uses an Optigon, a curious quasi-toy keyboard from the ’60s that featured thin, lo-fi optical discs with prerecorded sounds—jungle noises, tepid rhumbas, etc. An analog synthesizer before the concept made sense. As impeccable as her vocal is, stick around a few minutes for the hidden track: Several minutes later, Nan sings it again—in Japanese! Dreamsville, Daddy-O.

—Dave Nuttycombe