Mel Torme: Velvet Moods Featuring the Original California Suite (2007)
The centerpiece of this collection is the eleven-part "California Suite for orchestra and chorus, which Tormé composed and arranged. No one is really making music like this anymore, and parts will recall the close knit harmonies of radio commercials. But overall it's a highly enjoyable collection of vocal music, tastefully arranged and catchy. While this may be Tormé's crowning achievement personally, the rest of the CD may hold more interest.
Along with a few tunes featuring the Mel-Tones and some evergreens like "Born to Be Blue and "Night and Day, surely the most interesting part of Velvet Moods are the tracks where Tormé is backed by the Red Norvo trio featuring Tal Farlow and Charles Mingus (surely the only time Mingus and Tormé performed together). This trio has long been a favorite of many a jazz fan, and the foursome seem inclined to pursue a more maverick approach and more daring material. And of course, what would be a Tormé set without "The Christmas Song?
It could be argued that Tormé has fallen out of fashion these days, but his records are quite a treat. As a sampler of all the aspects of Tormé's artistry, Velvet Moods is tough to beat.
Track Listing: That's Where I Came In; Born To Be Blue; Night and Day; Geometric Blues; The Carioca; I've Got A Felling I'm Falling; On A Little Street In Singapore; I Like To Recognize the Tune; I Love Each Move You Make; Heart and Soul; You're A Heavenly Thing; The night We Called it a Day; The Christmas Song; It's Easy To Remember; Bernie's Tune; Pola Dots and Moonbeams; The Original California Suite: Mountain Desert Theme; The Golden West; We Think the West Coast Is the Best Coast; Coney Island; The Miami Waltz; They Go to San Diego; Sunday Night in San Fernando; Got to the Gate on the Golden Gate; Prelude to "Poor Little Extra Girl"; Poor Little Extra Girl; We Think the West Coast is the Best Coast & Finale.
Personnel: Mel Torme: vocals, with various others including Sonny Burke and his Orchestra; Hal Mooney and his Orchestra; the Mel-Tones; Red Norvo: vibes; Tal Farlow: guitar; Charles Mingus: bass.
Record Label: Cherry Red Records