Mel Torme: The Best of the Concord Years
This two CD-set revisits the last two decades of Mel Torme's lengthy and memorable career via 28 songs in diverse musical settings. There are duets with pianist George Shearing, tightly meshed ensembles and powerhouse big bands recorded at intimate concerts, outdoor festivals and studio sessions. Captured between 1982 and 1996, during the peak of Torme's 40-year career, his extraordinary voice never varies in inventive combinations of graceful lyrics, agile scatting and incredible musicianship.
Each performance has its attributes, but particularly memorable are Torme's own compositions: "Born to Be Blue" with Shearing (who wrote the succinct liner notes) and "The Christmas Song" (written at age 19) with the Frank Wess Orchestra. The style and mood of Torme's performances shift and change as he delivers an Ellington medley, two songs with Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, three superb tracks with the Marty Paich Dek-tette, four high-energy charts with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, and a generous helping of Torme-Shearing collaborations. A splendid tribute to an unforgettable voice.