A Tribute to Bing Crosby

Mel Tormé

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A Tribute to Bing Crosby Review

by Scott Yanow

On this Bing Crosby tribute, Mel Tormé's voice and breath control often border on the wondrous, especially holding long notes on ballads. While most of his efforts for Concord were unquestionably jazz, this date is closer to middle-of-the-road pop music. Tormé is backed by a 20-piece string orchestra conducted (and often arranged) by Alan Broadbent. Although trumpeter Randy Sandke and Ken Peplowski (on clarinet and tenor) have some brief spots, they mostly stick to short melodic comments. Tormé always considered the relaxed singing and phrasing of Bing Crosby to be a major influence on his own style, so for this effort he concentrates mostly on songs that Bing introduced in the 1930s. While Tormé's voice is in prime form, it is a pity that this could not have been a jazz date with a small group backing and inspiring the singer, similar to the ones that Teddy Wilson led for Billie Holiday. Frankly, the lush string arrangements are far from memorable and largely weigh down the ballad-oriented material. The rare times that Tormé actually improvises (such as the little bit of scatting at the conclusion of "A Man and His Dreams") end up mostly pointing out to listeners the adventure that is missing from the project.

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