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James Torme


Love for Sale, James Tormé’s debut CD for E1 Music/Tormé Jazz, finds the charismatic singer applying his distinctive vocal skills to time-honored pop and jazz standards and sparkling original tunes. The artists versatile voice is complemented by swinging big-band arrangements, as well as intimate, romantic settings and fluid R&B grooves that reflect the broad spectrum of his musicality.

The son of legendary entertainer Mel Tormé, James was literally born into the musical traditions that he celebrates on Love for Sale. However, James Tormé is not so much a retro revivalist as he is an advocate for the timeless values of honest songcraft and passionate performance. His respect for history is matched by his desire to evolve and expand those traditions into the future.

The young singing star is “the best male jazz singer to come along in the last 20 years” according to Chuck Mitchell, head of E1’s Jazz/Adult department. Mitchell adds, “Like his dad, James should never let a good song get past him.”

Love for Sale ranges from the heart-on-sleeve Tormé original “One or the Other,” the big-band jazz of the Alan Jay Lerner chestnut “Come Back to Me” and the Cole Porter-penned title track, to the lush pop standards “Autumn Leaves,” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life”, smoothly soulful reinventions of the Al Green classic “Let’s Stay Together” and Michael Jackson's “Rock with You.” Tormé recorded his version of the latter six months prior to Jackson's death and, thanks to a mutual friend, was in attendance at rehearsals for what was to be the final “This Is It”.

Elsewhere on Love for Sale, Tormé taps into his family roots with a bracing reading of one of his father's biggest hits, “Comin’ Home Baby.” Another highlight is his sensitive take on “Reminiscing In Tempo,” a song whose lineage stretches back to the late 1930’s, James’ father and famed band leader/composer Duke Ellington. Indeed, James Tormés’ musical history has long been intertwined with that of his father. Growing up in California with his father and in London with his mother, noted British actress Janette Scott, James sensed at an early age that he was destined for a career in music.

“My dad was a hero to me, and his lifelong love affair with music inspired my own,” Tormé notes, “He was impressing musical tastes and ideas on me from very early on [in my life] and I’m endlessly grateful for that.”

Tormé adds, “My musical vocabulary was born out of the music of my dad and of his contemporaries–Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Nat “King” Cole–mixed with influences from my own childhood like Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire, James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt.” He continues, “Growing up in England, things like Jamiroquai and The Brand New Heavies showed that it was possible to keep the jazz textures I grew up with – brass, strings and woodwinds–in my music, yet let it remain totally fresh at the same time.”

Although Love for Sale is James Tormés’ first album as a signed artist, he is already a seasoned professional having performed around the world with his own jazz trio and various symphony orchestras. He has also spent years honing his knowledge of the recording studio, working on his own projects, as well as those of other performers.

That experience came in handy in the making of Love for Sale, for which Tormé assembled an impressive team including jazz composer/trumpet virtuoso John Daversa and veteran musician/arranger/producer David Paich, in producing roles. It is no coincidence that both Daversa and Paich are also second-generation musicians, as the sons of celebrated trumpeter Jay Daversa and legendary arranger Marty Paich.

On Love for Sale, James Tormé puts his own stamp on the work of some of the past centuries greatest songwriters. However, two of the albums highlights are the lush, dreamy “A Better Day Will Come” and the smooth jazz anthem “Passin’ By.” Both songs sound like timeless classics even though they were written by previously unknown songwriters.

What all the songs share in common is Tormés’ uncanny knack for infusing a diverse array of material with his own magnetic personality and seamless interpretive abilities. And while Love for Sale makes it clear that James Tormé is his own man musically, it also demonstrates his determination to live up to the standards fostered in him by his father. The musical choices from song to song continually reflect one thing. James is unequivocally a Tormé, and in the business of music, that is a very good thing to be.