This is a well constructed collection of songs, and not full of cheap to license...
Jamie Fisher 2007
This 22 track retrospective covers 37 years of Mel Torme’s career, from 1945 to 1982. While Torme never quite achieved the status of Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra, he was still very highly regarded for his sleek improvisational work, dramatic interpretations of jazz standards and, indeed, for his general musicianship.
For the most part this compilation showcases Torme rendering classics from the great American songbook throughout the second half of the 20th Century, with his only 40s numbers being the ballad ‘’A Stranger in Town’’ (1945) which became a standard, and his biggest hit of the era ‘’Careless Hands’’ (1949). These are both fairly early on and from there the compilation moves through an array of big tunes from Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Shearing & Sam Coslow among many others. Worth noting around the middle is a 1964 rendition of ‘’New York, New York’’ – recorded more than a decade before it was made popular by Sinatra, and a rare recording of ‘’All That Jazz’’ (1966).
Many people say that Torme’s voice improved with age, and that is only confirmed by the penultimate track ‘’A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’’ (1982) which highlights the third peak in his career working with George Shearing in the 80s. Finally of course there is Torme’s most popular self-penned piece ‘’The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)’’ (1962) to wrap things up with another ample chunk of good old sentimentality.
Although it may be hard to see the point of yet another Mel Torme compilation, this is a well constructed collection of songs, and not full of cheap to license fillers like some of the dozens of others on the market. True fans would probably have liked to hear a little more of the bop side of Torme’s output, (and some of the more original moments this old master created), but as a primer to the ‘Velvet Fog’ this will do nicely...