Mel Tormé

Jazz Casual: A Pair of Singers

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This compilation combines separate appearances by Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae on Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual TV series, both of which had been previously issued as individual Rhino videos (as well as together with Jimmy Rushing's appearance on a Rhino DVD). Tormé is supported by a little-known but competent trio with which he was touring the West Coast at the time. The material includes forgotten but swinging numbers such as "We've Got a World That Swings" and the mellow "Sidney's Soliloquy," along with the humorous "Dat Dere" and the rather monotonous "Comin' Home Baby," which Tormé praises during the broadcast but disavowed later in his career as worthless. Tormé is heard on a baritone ukulele on Jobim's "Quiet Nights" (originally known as "Corcavado") and accompanies himself on piano for the lovely "When Sunny Gets Blue." Carmen McRae's set is polished and swinging, starting with her snappy take of "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart and Throw Away the Key." Her rhythm section of pianist Norman Simmons, bassist Victor Sproles, and drummer Walter Perkins is superb as well. The singer's compelling interpretation of "'Round Midnight" and unusual "Love for Sale" (marred slightly by her cough during its introduction; evidently the tight TV budget didn't allow for retakes) are also highlights. Both Tormé and McRae do their best during Gleason's interview segments to define what a jazz singer is, but each answer is awkward. Even if one already owns the DVD of these two fine singers, it is also worth investing in the CD.

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