The Jazz Legacy Project: Johnny Mercer, From Savannah to Hollywood

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Johnny Mercer: from Savannah to Hollywood

A Savannah native, Mercer’s ability to write some of the most colorful and indelible lyrics in American popular music landed him in the lap of Hollywood during the golden age of movies, where he co-founded Capitol Records.

What is it?

Each program is roughly 90 minutes, with the goal of bringing the casual jazz listener inside the minds and music of the most influential and interesting American musicians of all time.  The life and music of the artist/composer is entertainingly narrated by the drummer, Mr. Justin Varnes, and seminal jazz pieces are played to illuminate the narration.  These are NOT tribute concerts in the sense that the musicians are trying to recreate the original performances, but instead to celebrate the essence and accomplishments of the particular artist.

Who is it?

The Jazz Legacy Project:
Drummer and Narrator:  Justin Varnes
Pianist/ Keyboardist:  Nick Rosen
Bassist:  Kevin Smith
Saxophonist:  John Sandfort

“It’s like a jazz concert and a jazz history class in one…and they play their behinds off, too!” – Tamara Fuller, the Velvet Note.

Leader Justin Varnes has taught jazz at Emory University, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University, as well as toured with Earl Klugh, Phoebe Snow, and Mose Allison. His Jazz Legacy Project was sponsored by the Fulton County Public Library system for a year-long series of concerts. The Jazz Legacy Project has also performed at the Velvet Note, the Jazz Corner, the 30-A Songwriter’s Festival, and the Greenville Music Museum.