Mel Torme and the Mel-Tones

Mel Torme and the Mel-Tones Jazz Velvet Fog

The union of Torme and the Mel-Tones was created from fortuitous circumstances. Drummer/band leader Ben Pollack, who was the Chico Marx band organizer/manager at the time, must be credited as the matchmaker. He brought Torme together with these five Los Angeles City College students, who had billed themselves as "The School Kids," singing informally in and around the campus environs. Their respective needs meshed as the group's bass singer and vocal arranger Tom Kenny was headed for a US Army uniform. Torme arrived on the scene as if on cue, and the first edition of the group was launched with Bernie Parke, Diz Disruhd, Betty Beveridge, and Ginny O'Connor, plus Torme who doubled as arranger. Later Disruhd became another wartime draftee and was replaced by Les Baxter (whose reputation in future years as a composer/ arranger elevated him to the heavy talent ranks in the industry).

They assumed a fresh name, "The Skylarks," which failed to achieve more than a modicum of success. They then tried the label "The Mel-Tones," which caught on as the key name for them and indeed, they flourished as the hippest modern-sounding vocal group-appearing in several motion pictures and numerous sustaining radio shows. They ultimately expanded their name to Mel Torme and the Mel-Tones in recognition of Torme's dual role as the arranger and solo vocalist. As fate would often dictate, just when things were cooking and popping, Torme also inevitable answered the call to the Armed Services in 1945, and the group broke up.

But his term of service was not long, and when he was discharged the following year he promptly picked up again with the Mel-Tones. Torme attributes much of his arranging inspiration to the musical strengths of Vince Deegan, the arranger for Six Hits and a Miss of the mid 1930's, and to Bill Conway, whose resourceful charts for the Modernaires were musical standouts.

Torme has been a rare phenomenon throughout his long career. It is not surprising he was ahead of his time. So advanced were the harmonies and approach that the Mel-Tones could not sustain sufficient broad interest and ongoing economic support. Finally, in late 1946, Torme struck out on his own solo career.


Live With The Mel-Tones VOL 1

Fairmont College
You're Driving Me Crazy
You're The Top
That Old Black Magic
When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along
Everything Happens To Me
It's A Most Unusual Day
Maybe You'll Be There
Geometric Blues
The French Lesson
It's Dark On Observatory Hill
I've Got The Sun In The Morning And The Moon At Night
On A Slow Boat To China
Brahms' Lullaby
You're The Cream In My Coffee
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
Mountain Greenery
Here I'll Stay
Wish I May, Wish I Might

Mel Torme is not only a reknowned pop singer (dubbed the "Velvet Fog") but an equally respected writer and arranger, who began his career as a toddler, singing on radio. Mel had a TV show on NBC in 1948, and the songs on this CD were collected largely from that production, featuring co-stars from the program, such as Barbara Eiler, who duets with Mel on "The French Lesson." Imagine a MGM musical of the sort that was produced after World War II, and that's the mood: romantic and innocent, with a big band sound, as typified by "You're The Cream In My Coffee" and "Red Red Robin." Mel's style is relaxed, while absolutely musical; the Mel Tones jump in with close harmony support and schtick as their roles as musical variety sidekicks require. One of the albums' highlights is surely "Everything Happens To Me," the pathos of which is offset by Mel's deadpan delivery.
5423 CD $14.98

Live With The Mel-Tones Vol 2

Fine and Dandy
Isn't It Romantic
Blues in the Night
What Is This Thing Called Love?
Let's Fall In Love
The Money Song
Ah, But It Happens
Hooray for Love
Get Out and Get Under
Lover's Delight
It's the Sentimental Thing to Do
A Fine Romance
Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
Back in Your Own Backyard
I Get Along Without You Very Well
This Is the Moment
How High the Moon
It's Magic
Fairmont College (Reprise)
5425 CD $14.98

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