|Steve Rawlins, Steve March-Tormé|
(16th July 2013. Crazy Coqs. Review by Peter Vacher)
The pianist and singer Freddie Cole has a song entitled ‘I’m Not My Brother, I’m Me’ in which he seeks to differentiate himself from his rather more famous sibling Nat King Cole. No need for Steve March-Tormé to match this for he neither resembles his father Mel Tormé physically nor does he seek to emulate him in terms of song choices or vocal sound. He’s his own man and all the better for that. Reasonably enough, he references Mel as he starts this first-ever return engagement at London’s classy Crazy Coqs cabaret room (review of last visit here) but soon moves on, taking us through his own well-structured set.
Top vocalists know how to pace their performances and Steve’s no exception, this exemplified by a precise rendering of ‘Time After Time’, taken very slowly, before the self-penned ‘Skat Dat’ with its zippy, hipster motif, pulled in some welcome swing from bassist Dave Olney and drummer Elliott Henshaw, ahead of ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face’ sung as a dreamy waltz. For his ‘Lotta Love For You’, an elegiac composition about the pleasures and rewards of family life, Steve took to the piano, giving accompanist Steve Rawlins a break. It’s touching and a tad sentimental for English tastes perhaps, but heartfelt, as was his reading of Jerome Kern’s ‘The Folks Who Live On The Hill’.
The show high-spot for me, however, was another of Steve’s tunes, the climactic and tearaway ‘Swingin’ At The Blue Moon Bar & Grille’, a jazz-inclined piece so evocative it made me want to track the place down and hang out there immediately. In the old days, it would have been released as a single and climbed the charts, probably replicating his dad’s success with ‘In A Mountain Greenery’.
Steve’s bandstand presence is full-on in that uniquely American way; he’s out front, moves well and looks smart, leaving nothing to chance. At the snap of a finger, he turned this colourful room into Las Vegas at show-time before moderating the tempo and making it the most intimate space in town. In the language of show business, he’s a class act. He’ll be back again, that’s for sure.