I was talking yesterday to Frank Griffith about his new Mel Torme/ Marty Paich project for his nonet of top-drawer London players. Marty Paich‘s arrangements for small group in the 1950’s, that West Coast sound used to do it for me every time. Yup, Marty Paich is a favourite. I try ever so hard not to release my inner anorak into the blogosphere, but these days it seems you can get paid for it: the Library of Congress and Stanford University Libraries in 2006 funded another Marty Paich fan to release either his or (very unlikely!) her anorak…and to set up a Marty Paich Website.
I found the Velvet Fog Mel Torme to be a caricature of himself in his later years- son Steve looks terrified of him on this scat-with-your-dad video. But the early light-voiced Torme, with Paich’s nine to eleven piece band behind him was above all a very fine musician.
Frank Griffith is the ideal person with the right working band to be taking this tradition further- Mel Torme is one of the extraordinary list of people Griffith has worked for, and he has a tale or two to tell about him…. Here is the Press Release.
THE FRANK GRIFFITH NONET PRESENTS THE SONGS OF MEL TORME
FEATURING IAIN MACKENZIE (VOCALS)
Wednesday 8 April, The Spice of Life at 9-11PM.
6 Moor Street, Cambridge Circus, London, W1
0207 739 4672 http://www.spicejazz.co.uk
The Frank Griffith Nonet will be presenting the music and songs of Mel Torme and arranger Marty Paich. These two musical giants, both born in 1925 and sadly departed us within one year of each other (1995/1996). They collaborated on the classic 1960 album Mel Torme Swings Shubert Alley arranged by Paich featuring his “Dektette”. This ensemble was closely modelled on the 1947 Miles Davis Birth of the Cool band utilising trumpet, trombone, horn, tuba and saxes that emitted a lighter, softer sound which suited the velvety warmth of Torme’s crooning voice. Shubert Alley refers to a location in New York City’s “Great White Way”, the home of many Broadway Theatres from which many great songs were premiered. Included in these will be Too Close for Comfort, Just in Time, Once in Love with Amy and A Sleepin Bee, all arranged by Marty Paich who said “When we picked the tunes we chose, they were geared not only to serve Mel as vocalist but to serve instrumentally as well”. These charts were expertly transcribed by Simon Whiteside and Gareth Lockrane. Singer, Iain Mackenzie’s credits include The BBC Big Band, Ronnie Scott’s Big Band and Kenny Wheeler and has appeared at The Royal Albert Hall and The Berlin Jazz Festival. The Frank Grifith Nonet boasts many luminaries of UK jazz including Henry Lowther, Bob Martin, Paul Clarvis, Barry Green and Adrian Fry. The leader, an American saxophonist and composer/arranger has written for and/or played with Mel Lewis, Ron Carter, Sir John Dankworth, Dame Cleo Laine, Tony Coe, Joe Temperley and Mel Torme himself.