June 24, 2024 Grammy Museum Clive Davis Theatre Los Angeles, CA
Words by Lawrence Mann and photos by A Rood Photography

As a young teen, I had to earn the right to play drums, by starting with the piano. Once I recognized the keys, I immediately taught myself the intro to the Pink Panther theme. D flat, D major, E flat, E major. I am sure I am not the only one to do so. It’s a lot more fun than chopsticks!

I can, without a doubt, say that everyone in the Clive Davis Theatre had a similar connection to the music. Whether it was the Pink Panther, Baby Elephant Walk, Moon River or Peter Gunn, Henry Mancini’s indelible melodies are seared into our brain.

We were all in attendance to celebrate what would be Henry Mancini’s 100th birthday. The man who helped start the film scoring careers for John Williams and Quincy Jones as well as recruiting some of the greatest musicians in the world to perform his classic materials. Herbie Hancock, Sir James Galway, Johnny Mathias, the list goes on.

The evening started with an informative video tracing his roots, stating his impact and essentially educating us on the legendary composer, conductor, composer, pianist. and flutist. Following the video we were treated to a Q & A headed by an expert in the life of Henry Mancini, and had the perfect late night FM disc jockey voice, John Burlingame. He blatantly and hysterically plugged his book on Mancini, by peppering it into conversations throughout the Q & A. On the dais was Mancini’s daughter; Monica Mancini; her husband, also an expert in all things Mancini and a fine drummer, Gregg Field; Gordon Goodwin, a disciple of Mancini and a composer; as well as Los Angeles native and an amazing tenor sax player, Dave Koz.

Monica provided stories of growing up and the appreciation of her father’s music, while her husband, Gregg filled the conversation with facts, stats and timelines. Koz supplied the comedy relief and told two contributions that stood out. He said as mainly an instrumentalist, he really gravitates to melodies. Mancini’s melodies, as Koz stated, were a lot of meat on the bones. Something that he could bite into and identify with. Goodwin, proved to be well spoken and quite the story teller. He also had a few noteworthy contributions to conversation. He said that once Mancini created a melody, it was as if it had always existed. That was how indelible his works were. It also stated that he was more in awe of Mancini’s music in background, than the hooks. Goodwin noted that Mancini kept the story moving along with these little pieces that fit the story so perfectly. Koz piggy-backed on that thought by adding Mancini kept you in the story. If you are pulled away from the story by the music, the composer is not doing their job correctly. The evening was filled with great nuggets like these.

The members of the dais, along with both an upright bass player and electric bass player, a guitarist, and a keyboardist took turns on different classics. Monica took on vocal duties for a couple of songs, really shining on Two For The Road. For the finale, everyone jumped on stage for a real rocking version of Peter Gunn. When listening to these songs, one can really appreciate the influence Mancini had on contemporary arrangers, for me, most notably Angelo Badallamenti.

Set List:
Pink Panther
Two For The Road
Days Of Wine & Roses
Moon River
Peter Gunn

Check out the full gallery of photos from this night by A Rood Photo here.

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