All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
After several volumes of standards from the Great American Songbook, sixtyish rocker Rod Stewart is still loved by many of his female followers, though most seasoned jazz fans dismiss him as an aging rocker desperately seeking a new audience. On this date, the English singer attempts a series of songs either written or recorded by none other than Mel Tormé, though a number of major labels showed no interest in this project. As a result Stewart formed his own label to issue it.
The problem with this tribute is that Mel Tormé's golden voice improved like a vintage wine with age, while Rod Stewart's raspy vocals are no match for the Velvet Fog, especially on Tormé's own turf. The veteran rhythm section hired for this studio session consists of British jazz musicians who aren't widely known (pianist Chauncey Gardener is absolutely amazing), though their playing is first-rate throughout the datemore than can be said for the hapless British rocker-turned wannabe jazz crooner.
One can almost hear wags coming up with their own lyrics to describe how Rod Stewart butchers one song after another on this ill-advised salute, such as "It was just one of those things / When an aging rocker opens his mouth and sings. His ridiculous attempts to scat through choruses of "Lady be Good and "Sweet Georgia Brown would likely cause a riot in front of a jazz audience. Tormé would be even less happy with Stewart's laughable attempts to cover the late musician's originals, like "Born to be Blue and "The Real Thing.
The addition of the flightly English cabaret singer Polly Warner-Cracker as a second vocalist on "Lulu's Back in Town is another oddity. The worst performance of the date is Stewart's inept handling of the ballad "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen? Tormé's answer to Rod would likely have been sung this way: "Get out of town / Before it's too late, my friend...
Track Listing: Just One of Those Things; On Green Dolphin Street; A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square;
Sweet Georgia Brown; Born to be Blue; The Real Thing; Lulu's Back in Town; Blue Moon; Love
is Just Around the Corner; Lady Be Good; Too Close For Comfort; Liza; How Do You Say Auf
Personnel: Rod Stewart: vocals; Chauncey Gardener: piano; Alfred Hughes-Herdovem: bass; Reginald
Cross-Dresser: drums; Polly Warner-Cracker: vocals (on Lulu's Back in Town); Hassan Ben-
Sobahr: liner notes; J. Frederick Muggs: producer.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.