Man, do I miss Mel Tormé (1925-1999). Tormé (nicknamed "The Velvet Fog" by a disc jockey) died on this day ten years ago. Mel was an accomplished everything: singer, composer (The Christmas Song aka "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."), drummer, writer, airplane pilot, and all-around Bon Vivant. Whenever I think of swinging and sophisticated singing, Mel is the one who comes to mind. He's hands down my favorite singer. As far as local history goes, Mel performed at Miami Beach's Carillon Hotel many times and I think of that every time I drive past that Miami landmark. It's easy to imagine him in his tuxedo making his way to the stage in front of a well-dressed crowd, circa 1958. Tormé's appeared in movies, too, making his debut in Higher and Higher (1943) as did another well-known singer--some guy named Sinatra.
There is no official or any fan website dedicated to Mel, and there haven't been any recent CD reissues of his work. However, two of his best 1950s-60s albums are on CD: the self-titled Tormé from 1958 and 1960's Swingin' On the Moon. I highly recommend his 1988 autobiography, It Wasn't All Velvet, as it's one of the best entertainment memoirs ever written. Mel tells many tales about Hollywood stars, including anecdotes about his relationships with Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe.