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Mel Torme's son stands on his own two feet

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012

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When you're the son of Mel Torme and a singer yourself...well, the repertoire is kind of there for the taking, isn't it?

But Steve March Torme, who's created a Torme Sings Torme program, says that embracing his father's style did not come instantly, or easily.

"He really only impacted on me as a performer really in the last 10 years," says Torme, 59, the son of Torme and Toxton, who was raised mostly by his stepfather, game show host Hal March. "Obviously we're from different generations and grew up on different music. When I was a kid I wasn't sitting around listening to jazz records; my background was really pop music -- Steely Dan and the Beatles and Michael McDonald and Joni Mitchell and James Taylor."

Drawn into jazz during his 40s, however, the younger Torme -- who's recorded on his own, was in the band Full Swing, hosted an 80s TV revival of "Name That Tune" and now is also a radio personality in Appleton, Wisc. -- grew a deeper understanding of and appreciation for what made his father so unique and his incorporated that into his own approach to singing.

"It's really his musicianship, which I took for granted because I heard so much about it as a kid," says Torme, who also has a pair of symphonic concert programs he performs in addition to his jazz trio shows. "I just appreciate how clever he was and how meticulous he was with his homework -- which I am, too. Some of the voices he used for his chord changes were really hip stuff. I'd listen and think, 'Wow, he really did something unique there...'

"It doesn't serve me, in any purpose, to get on stage and do an impersonality of Mel Torme. As much as I love my dad, he doesn't need a tribute from me. The key is to stand on my own two feet and sing these songs as I hear them, but with the same kind of sensibility he would employ. That's what I think makes both of us credible singers."

Steve March Torme performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, 2100 Northline Road, Taylor.

Tickets are $35. Call 734-347-3200 or visit www.wcccd.edu.

Web Site: www.wcccd.edu

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