A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Mel Tormé – Part Five – The 70s and 80s


Welcome to the Saturday Jazz session with singer and composer William Price King and his series on the incomparable Mel Torme.  Many of us grew up listening to him perform and I seem to remember a couple of romances being helped along by his smooth style…. Anyway enough reminiscing – on with the show in the capable hands and voice of William Price King…

mel

We catch up with Mel Tormé in the early 70s and he had not released an album since 1969. He continued to work in television and film however and by 1971 he was host and co-producer for an ABC documentary series ‘It Was a Very Good Year,. The major events of all the years from 1919 to 1964 were presented each week and Mel would sing musical hits and interview personalities of the featured dates. He would appear in acting and singing roles on TV during those leaner years as well as continue to perform live at every opportunity.

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Mel would not release any studio recordings until 1977 but he did privately record a new live album Mel Tormé live at the Maisonette in 1975, recorded at the Maisonette room in the St. Regis Hotel in New York, which he sold to Atlantic Records.. Despite not making money on the album it did produce a nomination in 1976 for the Grammy Award for Best Accompanying Vocalist for the 15 minute Gershwin medley. One of the songs that he performed live on the album was the 1972 Stevie Wonder Motown hit ‘Superstition’

After a seven year gap, in 1976, Mel signed a new record contract with Gryphon Records and recorded the LP Tormé! A New Album in London in June 1977. One of the tracks on the album was New York State of Mind by Billy Joel

Whilst this album was being produced Mel was working in collaboration with long-time friend, drummer and band leader Buddy Rich and their January 1978 sessions, Together Again: For the First Time was released before his Gryphon label album.

220px-BuddyRichMelTorme_TogetherAgainForTheFirstTime_Century

However both albums would provide Mel with further Grammy nominations – for his album with Buddy he was nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category in 1978 for the fourth time and a fifth nomination followed in 1979 in the same category for his work on Tormé! A New Album.

Jazz vocals were making a great comeback in the 70s and Mel’s consistent loyalty to live performing in the 60s stood him in good stead now. He had developed a reputation as a talented Jazz singer and he was in big demand to perform around the world with often over 200 performances a year. He headlined at Jazz festivals, concert halls and with symphony orchestras and was booked to appear annually in major cities around the globe. His awards were not limited to the US or the Grammys as he was honoured in Europe as well.

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His success continued into the early 80s with more traditional pop music making a return to the charts. There was a sixth Grammy nomination, again for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, for his LP, Mel Tormé and Friends Recorded Live at Marty’s New York City, which was released on Finesse Records in 1981 and reached number 44 in the Billboard jazz chart. One of the songs on that album was The Best is Yet to Come by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh which was very apt considering how well Mel’s career was doing as he entered the new decade.

The 80s continued on track for Mel and his next collaboration with jazz pianist George Shearing in 1982 at the Peacock Court of the Hotel Mark Hopkins in San Francisco would result in the album An Evening with George Shearing & Mel Tormé released by Concord Records. It reached number 34 in the jazz chart and cemented their association for the rest of the 80s. Mel was nominated for his seventh Grammy again in the Best Jazz Vocal performance and this time he won in February of 1983. Here is a live performance from the album.. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

The pair teamed up for the album Top Drawer, winning Mel his second Grammy win and their album An Evening at Charlie’s released in 1984 provided his ninth nomination with a studio album An Elegant Evening producing the tenth for 1986.

At last Mel Tormé was receiving the recognition he deserved and next time we will explore the rest of the 80s and the 90s with this amazing singer and performer.

Additional sources
http://www.mtv.com/artists/mel-torme-00/biography/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9
http://www.amazon.com/Mel-Torm%C3%A9/e/B001HMPC1C
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Together_Again:_For_the_First_Time
http://www.discogs.com/Mel-Torm%C3%A9-Mel-Torm%C3%A9-And-Friends/release/2925374
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torm%C3%A9:_A_New_Album

wpk

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

LINKS
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

William Price King meets Mel Tormé
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme/ Part One.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-two-1940s/ Part Two
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-three-the-50s/ Part Three
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/31/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-four-the-1960s/ Part Four
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-iconic-jazz-my-funny-valentine/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/william-price-king-iconic-songs-of-the-last-century-stardust/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-sings-jazz-prelude-to-a-kiss/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-sings-moonlight-in-vermont/

THE DIRECTORY FOR NAT KING COLE AND MEL TORME
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/

 

 

A Man and His Music – William Price King meets Mel Tormé – Part Four – The 1960s


Part four of the series on the life and music of Mel Tormé and it is becoming clear that this talented musician, songwriter and performer, struggles to find his niche in the ever changing music industry. As mentioned in the first part of the series, Mel felt that he had been born just a decade too late to really take full advantage of the Jazz and Big Band Era, which produced the music that he loved to both write and perform. If the 50s had produced a shift in the taste in the fans for popular music, the 60s were going to be even more challenging for an artist such as Mel. It was a time of compromise, recording singles and albums to fit in with the leading label’s demands for popular music, to support his live performances of the music he really loved.

I will hand over to William Price King now to pick up the story.

at the red hill 

We move into the 60s with Mel Tormé struggling to find a record label who will allow him to release the music that is his passion… Jazz. He is now with Atlantic Records who very clearly want him to produce pop music, and eventually a compromise was made with another live album, Mel Tormé at the Red Hill in March of 1962. However he bowed to pressure from the management and released the more current number ‘Comin’ Home Baby’ in the September.

The song was written by the jazz lyricist Bob Dorough and bass player Ben Tucker. The song got Mel into the top 40 in both the US and UK and also earned him his first two Grammy nominations for Best Solo Performance, Male and Best Rhythm & Blues Recording. Whilst a terrific achievement for any artist Mel still felt disappointed that he was not being recognised as a jazz performer. To capitalise on this nomination, Atlantic rushed out the LP of the same name but it did not enter the charts.

What was a little bit more heartening for Mel was the comment made by jazz and gospel singer Ethel Waters to say that “Tormé is the only white man who sings with the soul of a black man.”

In 1963 Mel began a collaboration with The Judy Garland Show as musical director working closely on set with Judy and writing songs and musical arrangements combined with the occasional guest appearance. The show itself was in trouble from the beginning and Judy Garland’s unpredictability due to her personal issues resulted in a roller-coaster ride of triumphs and disasters in the few months that the show aired.

Judy Garland Show

The personal relationship between Mel and Judy was not a harmonious one and he was fired shortly before the series itself was cancelled. Mel wrote a book after Judy Garland’s death “The Other Side of the Rainbow with Judy Garland on the Dawn Patrol”. It was clearly an unhappy time for the aging actress and singer as her star faded and Mel related the behind-the-scenes dramas that he witnessed. Whilst not popular with Judy’s legions of fans and family, after a rewrite of the introduction to the book to mollify their criticisms, Mel paid tribute to the fact that Judy could still pull out all the stops when performing.

right now

Free to return to live performing from late 1964, Mel signed to Columbia Records and as well as some singles he cut the album That’s All. But, as at Atlantic Records, he was being pressurised to produce more contemporary/pop/rock songs. In 1966 his Album Right Now was released and included some of his recent hits such as ‘Homeward Bound’, and ‘Red Rubber Ball’. Mel made the Easy Listening chart in the summer of 1967 with ‘Lovers Roulette’ but by the end of the year he was off the label.

Red Rubber Ball written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley

Mel had been appearing in films over the last few years, including playing himself in The Patsy and this was followed by A Man Called Adam. He also began to be seen more on the small screen as well as writing episodes and guesting in popular series such as Run for Your Life and The Virginian.

220px-Mel_Tormé_-_A_Day_in_the_Life_of_Bonnie_and_Clyde

Mel signed with Liberty Records in early 1968 and on the wave of public enthusiasm for the film Bonnie and Clyde that had been released in 1967, he wrote the original title track ‘A Day in the Life of Bonnie and Clyde’. With the exception of this track, the album mostly consists of covers of popular songs of the late 1920s and early 1930s, around the period when the real-life Bonnie and Clyde were committing their bank robberies.

By 1969 Mel was back with Capitol Records and cut two more albums,A Time for Us’ and ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’. ‘A Time for Us’ was the love theme from Romeo & Juliet that had been an instrumental arranged by Henry Mancini and it was to become one of the most romantic ballads of the late 1960s.

Mel was now entering the 1970s and he would be out of the music charts for some time although he would still be in the public eye with his work in television and film and with his live performances.

Sources
http://www.mtv.com/artists/mel-torme-00/biography/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Torm%C3%A9
http://www.amazon.com/Mel-Torm%C3%A9/e/B001HMPC1C
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comin‘_Home_Baby!

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.

Price Russian photo Cave Wilson

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

LINKS
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

William Price King meets Mel Tormé
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme/ Part One.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-two-1940s/ Part Two
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-meets-mel-torme-part-three-the-50s/ Part Three
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-iconic-jazz-my-funny-valentine/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/william-price-king-iconic-songs-of-the-last-century-stardust/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/a-man-and-his-music-william-price-king-sings-jazz-prelude-to-a-kiss/

THE DIRECTORY FOR NAT KING COLE AND MEL TORME
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/