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Mel Tormé explains in the liner notes to this collection that has "never recorded a straight album of ballads" during his fifteen years with Concord Jazz. "But I've always wanted to do an album exclusively of songs that have the air of moonlight at midnight." So here it is: not a new recording, but twelve tracks culled from his sixteen Concord discs to put you fervently into that midnight mood.
The only problem with a collection like this is a tendency to sameness, but small differences minimize any trouble here: "More Than You Know" is a bit higher up than "My Foolish Heart" and the opening medley of "This Is My Night to Dream" and "...It Must Be True." Some of the tracks "Foolish Heart," "Here's to My Lady," "After the Waltz is Over," "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?", and "I'll Be Seeing You" are taken from the singer's fruitful collaborations with pianist George Shearing. The divine Cleo Laine shows up for a marvelous duet on "Angel Eyes."
All this makes this a fair disc to give to someone who has not experienced the delights of Mel Tormé's elegant voice. Even in the advancing years of these recordings his voice is as velvety as ever (just a bit adenoidal on the high notes, but ever smooth). The duets with Shearing are understated (as is everything here, of course) examples of a tremendous musical affinity. Certainly collections work best if they whet the appetite for the originals, and the Shearing numbers here do that in spades. Run don't walk to get An Evening with George Shearing and Mel Tormé and An Elegant Evening. Don't miss either Mel, George, and rhythm section on An Evening at Charlie's, A Vintage Year and the smashingly titled Mel and George "Do" World War II.
Mel Tormé is an American master with too high a sense of craft to put out anything but an excellent album.