This is a CD reissue of the 1978 album Mel Tormé & Buddy Rich: Together Again for the First Time, originally released on LP by Gryphon Records (G-784) and as a direct-to-disc recording on Century Records (CRDD-1100). The original title refers to its being the first studio match-up between Tormé and his longtime friend Rich, although the two had appeared together on numerous occasions (and Tormé would later become Rich's biographer). The live-in-the-studio recording occurred in the middle of a long period in Tormé's recording career, lasting from 1974, when he left Atlantic Records, to 1982, when he joined Concord, during which he spent relatively little time in the studio. Clearly, the reason for this lay with the music business and not the singer, since, at 52, he sounds at the top of his game here, singing mostly his own arrangements of standards like "Here's That Rainy Day" (on which he's accompanied by alto saxophonist Phil Woods) and "Lady Be Good" (done as a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald). The Rich Orchestra is in equally fine form on its instrumental showcases "Cape Verdean Blues" (by Horace Silver) and "Funk City Ola." The stand-out track for both singer and band is the unusual eight-minute version of "Blues in the Night." It's a shame Tormé didn't do more recording with the Rich band, since they are so well suited to each other. As it is, Hindsight's 1999 reissue, coming shortly after Tormé's death, helped fill a hole in his in-print discography.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann