Mel Tormé

Nothing Without You

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Mel Tormé is in typically fine form on this Concord set; the problem is his musical partner Cleo Laine. Although often classified as a jazz singer, Laine, who has a tremendous range and a lovely voice, seems incapable of improvising. Backed by a 12-piece group led by Laine's husband John Dankworth, the duo perform a variety of mostly superior standards, but nothing unexpected happens -- except for a somewhat disastrous "Two Tune Medley." On the latter, Tormé and Laine sing 20 songs, generally two at a time, in less than five minutes; it is quite annoying. Otherwise, Tormé, who seems to have enjoyed the date, is weighed down and restricted by Cleo Laine's nonswinging style. Skip this one.

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