April 01, 1991 12:00 PM

Mel Tormé

The thing about Mel Tormé is that he keeps getting better in much the same way that Rosemary Clooney keeps getting better. In neither case is there the slightest urge to say, “Please, please stop singing. I’d like to remember you as you were,” which is the sort of thing one wants desperately to say to the man whose name will go unuttered but whose initials are Frank Sinatra.

On this album, recorded live, Tormé begins with an adroit medley arrangement of “Sing for Your Supper,” “Sing, Sing. Sing” and the Carpenters’ hit “Sing (Sing a Song).” There is a beautifully handled, tender “Early Autumn,” which reminds listeners, in case they need reminding, that Tormé always seems to know whereof he sings. More, there is never the sense of his simply going through the emotions. One of the more delectable pieces on the album is a medley from Guys and Dolls, which Tormé handles with great dispatch and humor.

But by far the best numbers are those performed with the Frank Wess-Harry Edison orchestra, among them the Lambert. Hendricks and Ross classic “Down for Double” and “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” which fully demonstrates Tormé’s vocal control—still sturdy despite his 65 years. (Concord)

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