Friday, June 5, 2009

Misty About the Fog

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.

4 comments:

  1. How come I never heard of Mel? Such a sweet post, very well-written!

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  2. Do you remember the TV Show Night Court with Harry Anderson?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Anderson
    Judge Stone (and Harry) was a fan of Mel Torme and would mention him on the show. That is how I know of Mr. Torme.

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  3. Lolita: If you like the standards and jazz, give ol' Mel a try! :)

    Viridian: I've seen "Night Court" a couple of times over the years, but none with Mel on it. I've read that the character was a fan. I grew up in the 80s, but never watched that show; I'm not big on sitcoms in general. :)

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  4. A Mel Torme Fan! Me, too. I have a standard rant about how unappreciated he is - under-rated actor, a singing equal to Sinatra, etc.-- but I see I'd just be preaching to the choir here. Suffice to say: He had class. He had style. He had a completely unique way with a song. My favorite? The 1956 Tormé-Paich Legendary Sessions. Thanks for the post. -- Mykal

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