Tuesday, January 29, 2008

my buddy mel

i was lucky enough to hear mel tormé in concert twenty-some years ago, at the riverside theater in milwaukee, with my friend tracy. after the concert tracy and i followed mel's black limo to the pfister hotel and watched him go inside.

we fantasized about going in and having a drink with him at the bar. we'd talk about jazz and life and "the christmas song" and judy garland and...well...stuff. we'd be mel's milwaukee buds.

soon, our mothers would be saying things like, "where are you going tonight?" and we'd say "ohh, mel is meeting us for a fish fry at the m&m club," or "mel's taking us polka dancing down to the blue canary," and our mother's would say "you're hanging around this mel guy an awful lot lately," and we'd think "yeah...mel."

we'd celebrate mel's birthday at angelo's piano bar, where he'd come in full disguise -- dark sunglasses and a fake mustache -- and then get up and sing "a foggy day in london town" and blow the place away.

instead, tracy and i watched mel tormé walk into the pfister hotel that night and we sat in the car and giggled and laughed. then we ate crepe's at the magic pan. probably. yes, i was a total geek. ("was?" you might be thinking.)

here's a great example of why i love mel tormé: it's free, it's easy, and man it swings. he was the the best.


  1. I saw Mel in concert twice. First, around 1987 at the Sun Dome in Sun City, AZ - a huge football stadium theatre filled with very senior citizens. He put on a great show and afterwards my friend and I got ourselves backstage covertly and waited to meet him. His handlers tried to wisk him past us, but he ignored them and stopped to talk to us, I think pleased that two young fans were waiting for him.

    The second time was at Michael's Pub in NYC about 1992. It was an intimate room with about 11 pieces in the band. Fantastic! I spoke to him afterwards, interupting him at a table with Joe Pesci. Again, he was cordial and accepted my gushing with grace. That was a night I will always treasure, being so close to him and his music.

  2. I heard The Velvet Fog at Interlochen when I was 20. I worked the box office, so I got to meet him, and he was a hoot! I knew my dad loved him, and I like his style (a lot!), but didn't get it then. Two years ago I was driving listening to public radio and his early "Lullaby of Birdland" recording came on. I almost wrecked the car! It was the most gorgeous voice doing the most exact rhythms and scatting like a mother f****r. I immediatelybought all his early recordings, and his is one of my all time vocal idols. I hope all your singer readers (well, actually,everyone) gets to know this most extraordinary singer.

  3. i love mel torme. remember that tv show where there was a judge who idolized mel torme? that was awesome, whatever it was called.

  4. The young Mel Torme had an astounding resemblance to Karl Miller.

  5. I know this is entirely late... but I heard his son, Steven March Torme, this past November in Appleton. He was remarkably similar to the Velvet Fog. If you get a chance, take a look and listen. http://www.stevemarchtorme.com/


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