BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Singer Monica Mancini isn't name dropping when she describes growing up in Southern California surrounded by 1950s and '60s Hollywood royalty, including James Cagney, Cary Grant and Quincy Jones.
"I don't think any of us truly appreciated those people, those celebrities, Hollywood giants. In retrospect we could say, 'Oh my god, we were hanging out with Gregory Peck and Johnny Mercer,'" says Mancini, a daughter of Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer-conductor Henry Mancini, whose closest friends were superstar singers Andy Williams, Cleo Laine and Johnny Mathis.
Friday night, Monica Mancini leads an all-star tribute to her father at Jazz Roots' sixth-season opener at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. "Pink Panther at 50: Celebrating Henry Mancini" also stars Jon Secada, Shelly Berg, Nicole Henry, Cyrille Aimée, Tom Scott and the University of Miami Frost School of Music's Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.
Henry Mancini, who died at 70 in 1994, is most associated with scoring the films of director Blake Edwards. "It's kind of like Steven Spielberg and John Williams. They were a team," Monica says.
Their films together include 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's (Moon River); Days of Wine and Roses in '62, The Pink Panther in '64 and Victor/Victoria in 1982. Mancini also composed Charade (1963) and conducted the 1974 M-G-M musicals documentary, That's Entertainment!
"It is the history of prolific music that in some respects defines jazz for many Americans who've grown up in the 20th century," said John Richard, the Arsht Center's president and CEO. "It will be an evening of celebrating his music. Her selection of his portfolio is a series of special moments. She's the spotlight of the Mancini legacy for the 50th anniversary."
IF YOU GO
Monica Mancini performs "Pink Panther at 50: Celebrating Henry Mancini" 8 p.m. Friday at the Adrienne Arsht Center's Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets $25 to $150. www.arshtcenter.org