Mel Tormé

In the Studio and in Concert

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This posthumous reissue combines 1988's Reunion and 1989's In Concert Tokyo in a single two-disc package. The two Concord albums marked Mel Torme's first collaboration with arranger Marty Paich and his "Dek-tette" since 1957. In his mid-sixties at the time of the recordings, Torme sounds incredibly robust and inventive. The ten-piece band is just the right touch -- small enough to swing with intimacy and economy, big enough to color a ballad with regal textures. Torme may be thought of as the quintessential old-fashioned crooner, but here he puts his successful spin on some excellent modern material, including Chick Corea's "Spain" (with lyrics by Al Jarreau), as well as "Walk Between the Raindrops" and "The Goodbye Look," two tracks from Donald Fagen's The Nightfly. Paich's electric piano on many of the tracks adds another hip, modern touch. But the bulk of the material includes hot jazz ("Sweet Georgia Brown"), swinging standards ("Just In Time," "More Than You Know"), and classic show tunes ("The Trolley Song," "On the Street Where You Live"). There's also a nice bossa nova medley, as well as a strong Duke Ellington component: instrumental versions of "It Don't Mean a Thing" and "Cotton Tail," along with a reading of "The Blues," a haunting meditation from the maestro's Black, Brown and Beige. The fact that this package captures Torme quite late in his career does not diminish its value as an example of the singer's power and vitality.

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