Personnel: Mel Torm‚ (vocals); Mel Torm‚; T. Van Horne, Randy Van Horne Singers, R. Carmichael, Loulie Jean Norman, The Pat Moran Quartet (vocals); Barney Kessel (guitar); Marvin Limonick, Anatol Kaminsky, Felix Slatkin, Israel Baker, Eudice Shapiro, Paul Shure (violin); Eddie Rosa, Ethmer Roten, Harry Klee, Wilbur Schwartz (flute); Larry Bunker (accordion, vibraphone, bongos); Herb Geller (alto saxophone); Bob Enevoldsen (tenor saxophone, trombone, valve trombone); Dave Pell, Jack Montrose, Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone); Jack DuLong (baritone saxophone); Don Fagerquist, Frank Beach, Howard McGhee, Pete Candoli (trumpet); Vincent DeRosa (French horn); Albert Pollan (tuba); Ralph Sharon (piano); Alvin Stoller, Stan Levey (drums); Al Hendrickson (guitar); Bud Shank (alto saxophone); John Cave (French horn); Marty Paich (piano, celesta); Irving Cottler (drums, percussion); Mel Lewis (drums); The Bethlehem Orchestra.
Audio Remasterer: Keith Blake.
Liner Note Author: Ted Gioia.
Unknown Contributor Role: Al Pellegrini Orchestra.
Arrangers: Marty Paich; Al Pellegrini; Hal Mooney; Sandy Courage; Andr‚ Previn ; Russell Garcia .
Like Frank Sinatra's classic LPs for Capitol and Ella Fitzgerald's songbook series on Verve, Mel Torm‚'s recordings for the Bethlehem label hit such dramatic heights in artistry -- and maintained them -- that the artist would never quite escape their excellence despite remaining a respected and rewarded performer for decades afterward. Bethlehem was the home of Torm‚'s first mature full-length statement, It's a Blue World, which proceeded from his undergraduate studies of the 1940s with the Mel-Tones and his advanced post-grad work on the first version of Mel Torm‚'s California Suite (which he recorded again while at Bethlehem). That Torm‚ on Bethlehem isn't known well by the wider music-buying public is down to the label's tortuous history (it folded in the middle of his contract) and Torm‚'s short stint there (six billed records within three years). It certainly can't be the quality of the material that causes the low profile, for if Lulu's Back in Town or Mel Torm‚ Sings Fred Astaire had remained in print like any of Sinatra's LPs, they would have acquired the same high profile. Leave it to those entrepreneurial wizards at Shout! Factory to introduce the first major-label compilation devoted to that excellent period. Better still, beyond the gripe of including only 16 tracks, The Bethlehem Years makes all the right choices for material. The two records mentioned immediately above are each given four slots, with Torm‚'s buoyant vocals backed in great fashion by Marty Paich's Dek-tette, which makes a statement that a well-chosen ten-piece band can pack a punch while also leaving the vocalist plenty of space. Torm‚'s gift for entertaining at live appearances is also given quality time, including several songs from his appearances at the Crescendo in Los Angeles. ~ John Bush