Performances and Artists
Vocalist James Tormé grew up among jazz royalty. His father was the famous Mel Tormé, the smooth-voiced, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning crooner who also had one of the best nicknames in history – “The Velvet Fog.” The younger Tormé was raised surrounded by his father’s friends and collaborators like Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, Artie Shaw and Branford Marsalis. It was a truly rich musical environment, one that greatly influenced his career.
Tormé plays two nights in Cabaret Jazz – Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30, 2015 – presenting his Celebrates the Greats show. Both performances start at 7:00 p.m.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Tormé sings for rapt audiences. In terms of musical style, he builds upon a foundation of jazz standards while infusing his works with modern sensibilities. This mellifluous mix comes to the fore on his most recent album, Love for Sale, which includes a luscious cover of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You.” The single became a 2011 smooth jazz radio hit. In addition, his version of his father’s 1962 big band-meets-rock ‘n’ roll gem,“Comin’ Home Baby,” was listed by the New York Post as a top cover song.
Tormé’s combination of bona fide jazz chops and affable charm – traits shared with his father – has made him popular in clubs and concert halls. He’s performed in the Bahamas and is very well received in the United Kingdom, where he had a sold-out tour in 2014. In the United States he has played marquee venues like the historic Greek Theater and the splendid Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He’s no stranger to Las Vegas’ musical scene either, having appeared at the former Las Vegas Hilton and at The Smith Center for two thrilling Cabaret Jazz runs.
During his upcoming pair of shows, Tormé will bring alive the legacy of musical giants such as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Miles Davis and Nat King Cole. Of special note, he will also cover Frank Sinatra. 2015 is the centennial celebration of “Old Blue Eyes’” birth. (The Smith Center’s resident company the Las Vegas Philharmonic also covers Sinatra with Pops V: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra this weekend and in June The Smith Center presents Frank Sinatra Jr. for Sinatra Sings Sinatra – The Centennial Celebration.)
And of course there will be plenty of Mel as well! You just might call it the Return of the Velvet Fog.
Dad Was a Movie Star, Too!
James Tormé’s father, Mel, was famous for his trademark vocal delivery and decades-long singing career. He was also a frequent actor who is remembered fondly for his many roles.
Tormé père had his first movie job in tandem with that other great silver screen crooner and fellow Las Vegas star, Frank Sinatra, in 1943’s Higher and Higher. Interestingly, it was Sinatra’s film debut as well. Tormé also starred with future Rat Packer Peter Lawford in 1947’s Good News. He would later appear in films with luminaries like Perry Como, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly and Mickey Rooney.
An entertainer with a penchant for comedy, he was the singing voice of Donald Duck in 1988’s The Night of the Living Duck and had a cameo in the farcical The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear.
In the ‘80s and beyond, Tormé gained hordes of new fans from his recurring and featured spots on classic TV shows such as Night Court, Seinfeld and Sliders.