Mel Tormé

Comin' Home Baby!

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Paced by his only hit of the rock era, Comin' Home Baby! is a real crossover record, balancing a few groovy dance numbers (like the title track) with early-'60s cool jazz versions of the standards "Walkin'," "Moanin'," and "On Green Dolphin Street." Though Mel Tormé never made a terrible record -- his crisp voice and ineffable delivery carried all of his dates -- this session has to count as a low point. The constant striving for some sort of jazz-hipster atmosphere relegates one of Tormé's positive attributes -- his excellent scatting -- into little more than a novelty act. Shorty Rogers, who arranged the record except for the two hit hopefuls (Claus Ogerman's "Comin' Home Baby!" and "Right Now"), attempts to equal Marty Paich's excellent arrangement on the mid-'50s records -- and doesn't quite succeed. "Moanin'" is a stale recasting of the superior Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross version, and the child noise on "Dat Dere" is just baffling. Compared to Tormé's other record for Atlantic, Sunday in New York, Comin' Home Baby! is a passé work that understandably can't get much of a reaction from the usually majestic Mel Tormé.

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