Back in '82 when this concert was recorded at Carnegie Hall, Mel Tormé was just starting his vocal ascent out of a slump by beginning a long and fruitful musical friendship with pianist George Shearing. Joined with Gerry Mulligan's big band, Tormé is in excellent form as he swings through an enthusiastic set of standards, bebop, and Ellingtonia.
This recording is quite important because it fills in gaps in each of the headliners' respective careers. Mulligan produced only one other recording that year (a soundtrack for a French film), and Shearing essentially had only his first duet with Tormé to boast about. This was their first recording, and everyone is palpably having an enjoyable time of it.
Tormé is at his velvety best on the Ellington medly, as expected, but is surprisingly authoritative with the blues numbers. On "I Sent for You Yesterday" and an opus rendition of "Blues in the Night," Tormé argues that blues can be smooth and silky. True to form, he shines on percussive numbers, like the Jobim medley, somehow fitting "Summertime" into the Brazilian piece. The real surprise is Mulligan. Besides bringing excellent arrangements and assured baritone solos to the table, his supporting vocals are pure joy. Be it supplying harmony, or as in a duet (on "Walkin' Shoes"), Jeru brings an added dimension to this well laid out concert.
Cudos to UK journalist Gordon Jack for bringing this gem of a missing link to light. We look forward to the next gold from the vaults.
I've Heard That Song Before; I Sent for You Yesterday; Jeru; Don't Get Around Much
Anymore; What Are You Doing; Walkin' Shoes; Round Midnight; Line for Lyons; Wave; Blues
in the Night; Song is Ended; Lady Be Good.
Gerry Mulligan: baritone sax, vocals; George Shearing: piano; Mel Torm