Mel Tormè this weekend. Along with Woody Herman’s Third Herd, tearing it up at the 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival.
Dubbed The Velvet Fog for good reason, the warm, luxuriant voice of Mel Tormè had been his trademark for his entire career. One of the legendary male Jazz singers of the 1950s and 1960s who got started in the 1930s, Tormè was just as popular with Mainstream audiences, as he easily straddled both Jazz and Pop with equal ease and eloquence. But Mel Tormè was more than just a singer. As a drummer, arranger and composer, Tormè was an active element in the wide and all-encompassing world of music – of the over 250 songs to his credit as writer, his biggest, and probably most memorable even today is The Christmas Song (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire“). He was also an actor and accomplished author with some 5 books to his credit.
Mel Tormè was active all the way until a stroke in 1996 ended his singing career. In 1999 he was award a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement.
For those of you who know him through his recurring appearances on Seinfeld and Night Court in the 1980s or a host of other guest appearances in film and on TV, you may not be completely aware of his remarkable singing talents. Those of you who only know him as The Velvet Fog, will certainly appreciate this reminder that talent is timeless and legends are always with us, even if it is in spirit.