As a fan of today’s free jazz, I must admit an unashamed devotion to several artists considered square (O.K. draw the box with your fingers). Growing up with my parents favorites Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and Mel Torme their music made an indelible impression somewhere deep in my brain. Long after my parents stopped buying 78s and LPs, I cheered the resurgence of Torme and Bennett’s careers. But where Tony was more a pop singer (a vocal forerunner of Bruce Springsteen), Mel was a jazz singer. The ease of his delivery was as comforting as home cooking.
With a career spanning nearly fifty-years the singer/drummer/composer/arranger saved much of his best for the last decade of his life. He co-wrote “The Christmas Song” at age 19, and was a star for most of his 74 years. Torme made some exciting music with Marty Paich’s orchestra in the mid-fifties and much of it has been re-issued on Bethlehem Records. He returned to Paich’s Dek-Tette for a session and tour in the late-1980s. The two records produced for Concord, Reunion and In Concert Tokyo are reissued here.
Paich’s arrangements make for a tight-swinging affair. His augmented (by percussionists) 11-piece band includes the West Coast trumpeter Jack Sheldon, saxophonist Ken Peplowski, and drummer Jeff Hamilton. The band takes on a couple of Donald Fagan (of Steely Dan) compositions. That is, Paich with the Velvet Fog’s voicing turn pop into jazz. They even conquer Chick Corea’s “Spain.” But what stands out in both the studio session and the live date is the delight of Torme’s delivery. Fifty years of seemingly effortless elocution was his life’s work. In Japan he sang “The Christmas Song” probably for the millionth time, yet I’d rather hear Mel than any of those flavor-of-the-week ‘stars’ that appeared on television last month. Few singers have the presence Torme had fronting a large ensemble. His voice and career are larger than life.
Track Listing: Sweet Georgia Brown; Walk Between The Raindrops; When You Wish Upon A Star/I
I fell in love with jazz through my dad Bobby Hirst who was a jazz pianist for over 50 years around the UK and Europe. He was such a modest man but an incredible musician. I tinkered with piano but found myself drawn to guitar after listening to Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell
I fell in love with jazz through my dad Bobby Hirst who was a jazz pianist for over 50 years around the UK and Europe. He was such a modest man but an incredible musician. I tinkered with piano but found myself drawn to guitar after listening to Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and Kenny Burrell. Misty by Erroll Garner is one of my favourite tracks. My current choice of guitars are Gibson ES335 & ES175 although I only own Epiphone copies at present. I also play classical guitar and love to play jazz on them. I have recently moved to Leeds from York and hoping to meet new friends in the jazz community.