COMPOSERS: Mel Tormé
LABELS: Concord Jazz
ALBUM TITLE: The Classic Concert Live
WORKS: The Classic Concert Live
PERFORMER: Mel Tormé (vocals), Gerry Mulligan (sax, vocals), George Shearing (piano, vocals), Don Thompson (piano, bass); Gerry Mulligan Orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: CCD-2227-2
This massive (there’s no other word for it) 1982 live concert was subsequently broadcast on NPR in the US in 1983, so its availability on CD at long last is an occasion worthy of celebration. What the recording loses in quality (the barely-adulterated broadcast sound is merely very good rather than excellent) is more than offset by superb atmosphere generated by this meeting of three of jazz’s greatest, backed for the most part by Mulligan’s own big band.
In the end, the performance ultimately belongs to Tormé, whose affable manner and reputation as a velvet-voiced middle-of-the-roadster concealed a capacity for highly original interpretation and a talent for abstract scatting that turned his voice into an impossibly versatile front-line instrument. Highlights abound, but the trio’s take on Jobim’s ‘Wave’ is both virtuosic and very funny, while the 11-minute version of the Arlen/Mercer classic ‘Blues in the Night’ is absolutely extraordinary. Roger Thomas