Torme and Shearing, the ultimate live performance.
Mary Whipple | New England | 07/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Mel Torme and George Shearing, friends who recorded together often, performed at the Paul Masson Mountain Winery in 1987, each was at his peak. Torme was then sixty-two years old, but he had never smoked (unusual in this industry), and his voice, mellower and more mature, was even better at sixty-two than it was at thirty-two. Shearing, at age sixty-eight, having signed with Concord Records in 1979, was enjoying a renaissance as a jazz pianist, making stunning recordings with Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee, and Mel Torme, among others.
In this vibrant live performance, both Torme and Shearing are relaxed, more interested in communicating with the audience and each other than in special effects and pyrotechnics. This approach is epitomized in the final track, "Little Man You've Had a Busy Day," an unabashedly sentimental song which could not be farther from the typical wild, grand finale for live CDs--a song presented softly, quietly, and slowly. Intimacy is the watchword here, with Torme and Shearing concentrating on mood, atmosphere, and creative interpretation, rather than on showmanship.
This is not to say that the CD lacks showmanship! "Out of this World" begins with a haunting piano solo by Shearing and gains power when Torme enters and sings in dissonance to the piano, more slowly than normal, lush in sound and totally controlled. Shearing solos on "Someday I'll find You," an unusual, funky track, cheerful and upbeat (and written, surprisingly, by Noel Coward)--and in "Anyone Can Whistle/A Tune for Humming," filled with subtle changes in melody and mood. Torme and Shearing engage in delightful, humorous banter in a medley of six songs in "New York, New York," in which Torme leads the audience to expect a Sinatra-style extravaganza through the familiar, repeating honky-tonk intro, then switches to "Me and My Gal," in the same tempo and key.
With a wonderful balance of songs--slow, moody tracks alternating with upbeat, sprightly melodies--the CD is full of creative jazz interpretations and remarkably little scat. "Since I Fell For You," presented as a funky blues song, and the upbeat, syncopated "The Way You Look Tonight," one of the few songs with scat, are standouts. With Torme's beautiful sound and sensitive interpretations (reminiscent of his earlier recordings as a crooner, on CDs such as "The London Sessions"), this album is an intimate live performance in which two of the greats make some of their most beautiful music together, and do it in jazz. Mary Whipple
Must buy for superior SACD Surround
William M. Young | Richmond VA | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I preface this with the notion that I have an excellent 6.1 system that is seldom provided recorded material
to totally dazzle a listener.Pounce on this for total enjoyment.