Beside Marty Paich, none of Mel Tormé's collaborators exerted such a large influence on the singer's career as George Shearing, the pianist whose understated, expressive accompaniment contributed to Tormé's resurgence during the early '80s. Their six excellent albums together – two of which, An Evening With… and Top Drawer, earned Grammy awards – proved that classic vocal music had outlasted the long night that was the '70s, and emerged to become a timeless American genre. The pair's work for Concord was usually recorded live in a trio or quartet setting; leaving much space for Shearing solos, Tormé occasionally reprised his big standards ("A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," "Lullaby of Birdland," "The Folks Who Live on the Hill"), but often searched for more obscure material he could make his own, and often succeeded. Tormé and Shearing were restless innovators, taking on a full album of World War II standards, medleys devoted to songs about New York and by Duke Ellington, and a stunningly broad range of material: "Oleo," "Lili Marlene," "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?," and "Dat Dere."
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra With Rhoda Scott (a.k.a. Rhoda Scott in New York with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra) is a 1976 big band jazz album recorded by jazz organist Rhoda Scott with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and released on the Barclay (France) record label.
For a brief time, tenor saxophonist Bill Holman and drummer Mel Lewis led a hard-swinging quintet based in Los Angeles. Trumpeter Lee Katzman, pianist Jimmy Rowles and bassist Wilford Middlebrook complete the group, a band that benefits greatly from the arrangements of Holman. Rowles contributed "502 Blues Theme," Holman brought in two songs, and the unit also performs the obscure "Mah Lindy Lou" and two originals. This album (originally on the Andex label) serves as proof that not all jazz recordings from Los Angeles in the 1950s are quiet and cool.
Mel Rhyne is best known as Wes Montgomery's organist on and off in the late 1950s and '60s. He led few dates of his own until his rediscovery in the 1990s, so the CD reissue of this early jam session is quite welcome. Rhyne leads an all-star sextet that also includes trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, pianist Gene Harris (the piano and organ work quite well together), bassist Andy Simpkins, and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. Each of the four basic tunes are at least eight-and-a-half minutes long, with all but one exceeding ten-and-a-half minutes. However, with four strong soloists, the music never slows down or loses its momentum. Highly recommended.