Tremendously engaging life-story of the former ""Velvet Fog"" (he's been trying to shuck that label). As his latest tape attests, Torme today sings better than ever, with a rich, amber dimmer that wasn't his in his first golden years, although he's always been a thoughtful crooner who gave full value to lyrics. His musical versatility--as songwriter, instrumental arranger and arranger for vocal groups, and part-time drummer with Tommy Dorsey--will surprise many (he's also written a novel, Wynner, and a life of Judy Garland, The Other Side of the Rainbow). He bubbles with good, often wry humor throughout this parade of career events and great buddies and the ladies in his life. The big bands get heavy play herein with Mel as singer, arranger, or drummer. He started as a very juvenile radio-actor, appearing on scores of programs, including Jack Armstrong, Little Orphan Annie, and Captain Midnight, and at 16--while still in high school--had his first song on radio's Hit Parade. Still 16, he was invited by Harry James to go on the road as James' singer/drummer, but the deal tell through because of various states' child-labor laws. Torme has stood out in many films, the best perhaps being the college musical Good News, and his affairs include one with Ava Gardner, a rich friendship with Marilyn Monroe, a hilarious friendship with supreme egoist Buddy Rich, friendships with Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Garland, Jerry Lewis, and many others. During five decades on the road, he's fathered five children in four marriages, and is now writing the biography of drummer Rich and singing with pianist George Shearing, whose playing he aptly likens to chasing fireflies with an eyecup. Witty and moving, a breath of fresh air in a smoky bistro.