This week Afterglow features live performances from the Crescendo nightclub by two great 20th-century interpreters of American popular song–Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme. The Crescendo was a nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood owned by Gene Norman, a Los Angeles jazz DJ and promoter who put out a number of live recordings on his own record label. Recently some Ella Fitzgerald recordings at the club from the early 1960s have come out, a 4-CD set of music that’s never been released before, with Fitzgerald in her vocal prime, backed by an excellent small group that included Lou Levy on piano and Herb Ellis on guitar.
Mel Torme also recorded at the Crescendo—three albums in all in the 1950s. Torme was one of the so-called “vo-cool” singers, but also a talented drummer, songwriter, and entertainer who always managed to seem very much at ease on stage, and whose live performances are full of a laidback zest. We’ll hear music from his Crescendo recordings as well.