Mel Tormé and the Marty Paich Dek-Tette (Bethlehem). Originally recorded in 1956, this immensely sophisticated collection of pop standards teamed Tormé with a ten-piece jazz ensemble whose arrangements were based on the influential 1949-50 recordings of Miles Davis’ “Birth of the Cool” nonet and played by such heavy West Coast hitters as Bud Shank, Red Mitchell, and Mel Lewis. It established Tormé as a world-class jazz singer at a single stroke and remains wonderfully listenable to this day. The opening track, “Lulu’s Back in Town,” became one of Tormé’s trademark songs, though his sensitively sung version of Harold Arlen’s “When the Sun Comes Out” is, if possible, even better (TT).
Archives for November 23, 2008
Aljean Harmetz, The Making of Casablanca: Bogart, Bergman, and World War II. This book, originally published in 1992 as Round Up the Usual Suspects, is not a standard-issue piece of celebrity-oriented fluff but a snappily written, hugely entertaining primary-source history that delves deeply into the genesis of the iconic studio-system picture of the Forties. It may well be the most informative book ever written about the making of a Hollywood picture, and among many other useful things, it leaves the attentive reader in no possible doubt that the auteur theory of film is utterly irrelevant to the creation of an assembly-line film like Casablanca (TT).