Jeri’s Best Picks: Velvety Voices

Jeri Howard loves good food – and coffee. She drinks so much coffee in the books that it got a mention on DorothyL.

Years ago, a writer friend suggested that I write a column called “Jeri’s Best Picks.” I laughed and said it was a good idea. It is. But I won’t limit myself to restaurants.

Jeri’s Best Picks – an eclectic mix of my favorite things.

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Someone once wrote that Frank Sinatra may be called the chairman of the board, but Mel Tormé is the president of the company.

Mel Torme

I agree. I’ve been a fan of that velvety voice for years.

Mel, known as the Velvet Fog, was born in Chicago in 1925. He was sublime singer with nearly perfect pitch.

Here’s Mel on the Nat King Cole (another great voice!) show, singing “A Foggy Day In London Town.”

He was also a composer, music arranger, drummer, actor. And he wrote five books, including an entertaining autobiography called It Wasn’t All Velvet.

Many years ago I glanced through the concert listings in a Bay Area newspaper and saw to my astonishment that Mel was doing a gig with the Chabot College Jazz Band. For ten bucks. I was in the audience that Saturday. I also saw him perform with the San Francisco Symphony Pops.

That said, I will admit that nobody could sing One For My Baby like Sinatra.

KCSM, the jazz station here in the Bay Area, has introduced me to some new velvety voices, most recently Johnny Hartman, who had a lovely bass.

Then there’s Johnny Mathis. My mother’s favorite. I’ve teased her about that for years.

However, Johnny is indeed a fabulous singer. And he’s still out there performing after more than 50 years in the business. I saw him at the San Francisco Symphony Pops a few years ago.

But Mom had never seen him live on stage. She lives in the Denver area, so I kept checking the Mathis concert list. Finally, after a couple of years, I discovered he was scheduled for a gig with the Denver Symphony. So I bought tickets, flew to Denver, and took Mom to the show.

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