Mel Tormé sang "You’re Driving Me Crazy" at the Blackhawk Club in Chicago when he was only four years old. Many years later, as a Musicraft 78-rpm single, it marked the beginning of his solo ballad career. This 2-CD compilation includes a stirring performance of the same song made in August 1990 at the Concord Pavilion. The Velvet Fog could caress a melody. He could also massage it, turn it upside down, fast-forward the bridge, and introduce his accompanists clearly as the lyrics ricocheted around a concert hall. Tormé would mix Johann Sebastian Bach or Frederick Delius into a set comfortably without hesitation. From previously issued Concord albums, this retrospective includes a variety of songs that Tormé recorded between April 1982 and July 1996. Sadly, the singer suffered a stroke August 8, 1996 and passed away last June.
Mel Tormé could always capture and hold your interest when he teamed with pianist George Shearing. Their 1982 performance of "Lullaby of Birdland" opens with Shearing singing the tune several times over in slow dramatic fashion. They then turn up the heat as Tormé rips into one of his spontaneous adventures. From a bossa nova arrangement of "The Carioca" to an oozing "Stardust" the singer is presented from all angles. Presenting his vocal technique as if he were an additional band instrumentalist, Tormé scat sings and trades fours with tenor saxophonist Frank Wess on "Sent For You Yesterday and Here You Come Today." Highly recommended, Concord’s compilation has the singer in good company with the spotlight on his remarkable career.
Track Listing: Hi-Fly; Born to be Blue; Lullaby of Birdland; Stardust; Love is Just Around the Corner; This Time the Dream
Personnel: Mel Torme- vocal; George Shearing, John Campbell, John Colianni, Mike Renzi- piano; Don Thompson, Brian Torff, Neil Swainson, Bob Maize, John Leitham- bass; Donny Osborne- drums; Ken Peplowski- clarinet; Peter Appleyard- vibraphone; Howard Alden- guitar; John Dankworth orchestra; John Dankworth- soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet; Cleo Laine- vocals; Ray Loeckle- tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet; Larry Koonse- guitar; The Frank Wess Orchestra; Frank Wess- tenor saxophone; The Frank Wess-Harry Edison Orchestra; Harry Edison- trumpet; Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass; Rob McConnell- trombone; The Marty Paich Dek-Tettes of 1988: Marty Paich- arranger & conductor, Gary Foster- alto saxophone, Ken Peplowski- tenor saxophone, Bob Efford- baritone saxophone, Jack Sheldon- trumpet, Warren Luening- trumpet, Bob Enevoldsen- valve trombone, Lew McCreary- trombone, Dan Barrett- trombone, Jim Self- tuba, Pete Jolly- piano, Allen Farnham- piano, Chuck Berghofer- bass, Jeff Hamilton- drums, John Von Ohlen- drums, Mel Torm
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.