By John Adamian
4:55 PM EST, November 5, 2013
Imagine if the fog was your father. The Velvet Fog, that is. Meaning, of course, jazz singer Mel Torme, whose silky voice and smooth airy croon defined a style of sophisticated suave singing for generations and earned him the Velvet Fog nickname. Steve March-Torme, who's performing at the Ridgefield Playhouse this week, is the son of Mel, and stepson of TV host Hal March. He's got the entertainment part of his pedigree covered.
March-Torme — who spoke to the Weekly from his home in Appleton, Wisconsin a while back about his show — rounds out the showmanship portion of his resume by hosting two radio shows.
The show he'll be performing is called "Snap, Sizzle, Pop." March-Torme says "about a third of it is tunes that have been rearranged from the Great American Songbook, with much more modern arrangements. About a third is original material, and about a third is pop material -- Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, the Beatles."
When asked if he'd be bringing in any of the swinging large-ensemble style of his late father to the material, March-Torme was quick to clarify.
"This show is just with a trio," he says. "The last thing I want to do is get onstage and do big-band arrangements of James Taylor tunes. I stay pretty true to at least the sounds of tunes like that."
You can sigh a sigh of relief. No brassy renditions of "Sweet Baby James" here.
March-Torme started playing in rock bands as a teenager. He had a record deal in his early 20s in the '70s. And he's taken a circuitous route as a performer since then.
March-Torme says he didn't receive a lot of specific show-business or musical wisdom from his dad (who died in 1999), but he did learn about entertaining.
"I don't know that he imparted much to me," he says. "I took it as an example. The thing that I took from both my dads is really a committed sense of professionalism. It's just show business -- but, regardless, I think it's really important to put on a show where people say, 'You know, that just cost me 35, 40 dollars and it really was worth it.'"
Giving the people what they want is sort of the opposite of why many people get into performing.
"When you start doing this — especially if you're a rock singer, and I was a pop singer — you're doing it because you're getting attention, and it's really neat," says March-Torme. "And then you get to a point where that completely turns around. Now I don't do performances for myself, I do it to entertain the crowd."
Nov. 8, Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road, Ridgefield, (203) 438-5795, ridgefieldplayhouse.org
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