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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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The Very Best of
Mel Torme

Warner 5144 21572

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Lulu’s Back in Town
  2. Careless Hands
  3. Mountain Greenery
  4. Born to be Blue
  5. A Stranger in Town
  6. Bewitched , Bothered and Bewildered
  7. Fascinating Rhythm
  8. Puttin’ on the Ritz
  9. The Lady’s in Love with You
  10. Lullaby of Birdland
  11. 42nd Street
  12. Harlem Nocturne
  13. Sing You Sinners
  14. Comin’ Home Baby
  15. Right Now
  16. All That Jazz
  17. New York, New York
  18. It’s Delovely
  19. What are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?
  20. Gershwin Medley
  21. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
  22. The Christmas Song

If I was rating this record purely on value for money, it would get a 5* rating, if you add the musical content it puts it in the ‘must have’ bracket.

Mel Torme was one of about ten male vocalists, each of which had a unique and highly individual style that made them instantly recognisable. Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Matt Munroe, like Mel Torme all had highly individual styles, but they all had many things in common. Perfect diction, you can hear all he words, immaculate timing, good intonation and the ability to make average songs sound like something special.

Unfortunately my review copy of this record has no personnel information whatever, but it is obvious that some of the arrangements were written by Marty Paich. Marty was a monster of the great Hollywood film era, but he was also a great writer for jazz outfits of all sizes. Much of the fabulous Dave Pell Octet library was penned by him.

I have recently been playing many of these arrangements with a band called Jentle Jazz and they are a great pleasure and a challenge to play.

Mel’s voice was sometimes described as ‘the velvet fog’ and it is easy to hear how this description came about, listening to the tracks on the record. Each song is delivered with the touch of the master song craftsman, even though I feel sure that some of them were not Mel’s choice!

Mel wrote over 300 songs, but the one he will always be remembered for is The Christmas Song, surely the greatest Christmas Melody of all.

Mel had a long career starting out as a child actor, he was born in 1925 and passed away in June of 1999.

During part of his career he was also a drummer and a part-time arranger. He started a trend for advanced vocal groups with the Mel-Tones in 1944, the trend towards very modern sounding vocal groups continued with the Hi Los and Man-Tran, although he was not involved with either.

As the record demonstrates, in his early career he was in the hands of agents who wanted to make of him another crooner, but it was as a jazz singer that he excelled and the latter part of his career was dedicated to that role.

My own favourites are the tracks where the backing is in the hands of the Marty Paich Dektette, that really was a superb match of singer, arranger and orchestra.

I enjoyed this reminder of a quality singing talent!

Don Mather

 



 



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