I’m buy’n…

Not sure if I’m just still in an R&B state of mind after the Bobby Caldwell gig last week, but I’m sort of enchanted by Mel’s kid and his debut LP.

James Tormé brings an R&B, Standards and Pop fusion orientation to Love for Sale … and pulls it off.

Given these music persuasions, it comes as no great surprise that Tormé’s vocal style bounces among some of the stand outs from those genres.

James professes Michael Jackson as his principle influence. For me he’s more of a three way blend of Stevie Wonder’s melodic wind wood tones, Boz Scaggs’ R&B phrasing and his dad, Mel’s vocal confidence and dexterity … a strange troika I know — but it just works.

Not Mel… but that’s OK

JT does not possess nor attempt to ply MT’s distinctive “Velvet Fog” intonation (a good thing — there can be only one), but the father clearly influenced the son as James carries off beautifully the emotion and romance of the music his dad made popular 30 years before him.

Love for Sale includes several numbers that harken back to Mel’s prime, but they are rendered here in James’ style — there’s no echo or imitation at work — just a sense of tribute to the era that preceded him. That said, JT can scat like the wind and he tastefully resonates the elder Tormé’s trademark in songs like “Comin’ Home Baby”, “Autum Leaves” and the title track (“Love for Sale”).

© Robert Ferrone

James continues to lay in the standards with well turned classics like “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life” and “Come Back To Me”. JT sports interesting original standards numbers as well with a jazzy, lilting “A Better Day Will Come” and the mournful “Reminiscing In Tempo”.

Fusion not Confusion…

Al Green’s great hit, “Let’s Stay Together” is the opener on this LP and Tormé does it justice smoothly rendering this R&B favorite … Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” POPs up (pun intended … sorry) at track six with a tilt toward Boz phrasing.

James drops in additional pop songs in the 11 – 13 spots on the track list. These numbers are the weak spot of this LP, but they don’t rip at the fabric of this album — Tormé’s intonation and style deftly interprets and transforms these songs nicely under the genre fusion banner.

In the end …

…this is good stuff. Tormé II’s fusion style will not sate everybody’s standards need, but I like his turn through the American Songbook and look forward to more from James Tormé.

 Love For Sale (Deluxe Edition) Track List…

(VS_Guy ratings: “+++” pluses are good; “~” for meh to middling;  “- – -” minuses are not good)

1. Let’s Stay Together 4:32 ++ (not a standards but a very smooth R&B number)
2. Love For Sale 2:53 ++++ (Mel’s smiling down on his lad with this one)
3. A Better Day Will Come 2:53 ++ (Very nice standards style original number)
4. Passin’ By 4:32 ++ (pop number starts a bit slow)
5. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? 4:01 +++ (very nice)
6. Rock With You 3:33 ++ (JT pushes MJ through a Boz Scaggs filter)
7. Autumn Leaves 4:39 +++ (cool sad french lead-in switching to jaunty scat-tastic fun)
8. Come Back To Me 2:20+++ (Enough to make Peggy Lee proud)
9. Comin’ Home Baby 3:54+++ (another Mel fav well rendered)
10. Reminiscing In Tempo 3:20++ (I like this song the more I hear it)
11. One Or The Other 3:55 ~ (A little too Kenny Loggins-esk in the chorus for me)
12. Little Black Spider (Bonus) 3:29+ (oboe intro is cool … slow start with a nice finish. Popish)
13. Soft Songs (Bonus) 3:16 ~ ( Sort of a Cincotti number that needs Peter C to pull off)