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Encyclopedia > Mel Tormé

Mel Tormé (September 13, 1925 - June 5, 1999) was a jazz singer with a light, velvety, high-tenor voice. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest male singers in the history of jazz. Tormé also wrote a number of classic jazz songs and wrote almost all the arrangements for the songs he sang. This work is copyrighted. ... September 13 is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years). ... Events January-May January 3 - Benito Mussolini announces he is taking dictatorial powers over Italy. ... June 5 is the 156th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (157th in leap years), with 209 days remaining. ... 1999 is a common year starting on Friday of the Common Era, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... Jazz is a musical art form characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. ...


Tormé was born Melvin Howard Tormé in Chicago of immigrant Russian-Jewish parents. A child prodigy, he began singing publicly at the age of four, acting by age nine, and playing drums by time he was a teenager. His first published song, "Lament to Love," was recorded by Harry James when Tormé was only 15. The Russian Federation (Russian: Росси́йская Федера́ция, transliteration: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya or Rossijskaja Federacija), or Russia (Russian: Росси́я, transliteration: Rossiya or Rossija), is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... Harry Haag James (March 15, 1916 - July 5, 1983) was a popular United States musician and band leader, and a well known trumpet virtuoso. ...


Tormé went on to publish some 250 songs, mostly in collaboration with Bob Wells. Their best known effort is "The Christmas Song," recorded by Nat King Cole in 1945, and a holiday classic ever since. Tormé frequently commented that the song took less than an hour to write and was not one of his personal favorites. Nat King Cole (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965) was a hugely popular American singer and jazz musician. ...


During the war years, Tormé performed in led the Mel-Tones, a vocal group specializing in jazzy arrangements, usually backed by the swing band of Artie Shaw. Abba Crosby Stills & Nash Danny & The Juniors Dion & the Belmonts Dixie Hummingbirds Earth Wind & Fire Fifth Dimension Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers Gladys Knight & The Pips Hank Ballard & the Midnighters Jay & the Americans Little Anthony & the Imperials Martha & the Vandellas Peter, Paul and Mary Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Sonny Til and... Arthur Jacob Arshawsky (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004), better known as Artie Shaw, was an accomplished jazz clarinetist, composer, bandleader, and writer. ...


In 1947, Tormé went solo, recording a number of romantic hits, including the number one "Careless Love." His high pitched, silky-smooth vocal style earned him the sobriquet "Velvet Fog," which he disliked.


During the 1950s, as rock and roll increased in popularity, Tormé abandoned the commercial path and turned more and more to jazz. Critics say his art reached its first creative peak on a series of albums arranged by Marty Paich, one of the leading figures in West Coast jazz of that period.


With the resurgence of jazz in the 1970, Tormé entered another artistically fertile period. During the last twenty years of his career he recorded frequently in a variety of settings, the best known of which were a series of concerts with pianist George Shearing. In addition to producing a steady stream of albums, he performed live up to two hundred live dates annually, and appeared regularly on television. In the mid-90s he even gained popularity among Generation Xers for his appearances in a series of Mountain Dew commercials and on Seinfeld. George Shearing (born 13 August 1919) is a well-known British jazz pianist. ... Generation X is a term used in demographics, the social sciences, and more broadly in popular culture. ... Current logo Previous logo Mountain Dew is a citrus flavored soft drink, produced by PepsiCo. ... Seinfeld is a television sitcom, considered to be one of the most popular and influential of the 1990s in the U.S., to the point where it is often cited as epitomizing the self-obsessed and ironic culture of the decade. ...


In August 1996, a debilitating stroke in abruptly ended his 65-year singing career.


In a eulogy after his death, John Andrews wrote:

Tormé's style shared much with that of his idol, Ella Fitzgerald. Both were firmly rooted in the foundation of the swing era, but both seemed able to incorporate bebop innovations to keep their performances sounding fresh and contemporary. Like Sinatra, they sang with perfect diction and brought out the emotional content of the lyrics through subtle alterations of phrasing and harmony. Ballads were characterized by paraphrasing of the original melody which always seemed tasteful, appropriate and respectful to the vision of the songwriter. Unlike Sinatra, both Fitzgerald and Tormé were likely to cut loose during a swinging up-tempo number with several scat choruses, using their voices without words to improvise a solo like a brass or reed instrument.

Ella Fitzgerald photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1940 Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 - June 15, 1996), also known as Lady Ella, was one of the most important jazz singers, and the winner of thirteen Grammy Awards. ... Frank Sinatra in 1947 Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer who is considered one of the finest vocalists of all time, renowned for his impeccable phrasing and timing. ... A scat chorus is an example of voice music: in other words a string of meaningless syllables that carry a melody such as do-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-doo or ooh-eee-ooh-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang, though its often improvised on the spot...

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External links

  • Biography and discography (http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/torme_mel/bio.jhtml) (on vh1.com)
  • Biography and discography (http://www.theiceberg.com/artist/556/mel_torme.html) (on theiceberg.com)

 
 

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