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The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Having completed his relatively brief sojourn with MGM/Verve in 1973, Tony Bennett was in the midst of forming his own label, Improv Records, when he made a deal with jazz pianist Bill Evans to cut two LPs, this one for Evans' label, Fantasy Records, with another to follow on Improv. The singer and his collaborator ("accompanist" does not adequately describe Evans' contribution, and in any case he received co-billing) got together in a recording studio over four days in June 1975 with no one other than the producer, Helen Keane, and an engineer present, and quickly recorded one of the best albums of either's career. For Bennett, it was a dream project; for years (decades, actually), he had been balancing the demands of commerciality with his own inclinations toward jazz and affection for the songs of Broadway masters and of the Great American Songbook. Left to himself with a jazz partner, he naturally gravitated toward both interests. There were songs here that he had already recorded, but never in so unadorned, and yet fully realized a fashion. Evans was an excellent accompanist, using his steady left hand to keep his singer centered, but ready, whenever the vocals were finished, to go off into his characteristically lyrical playing. Bennett could seem a bit earthbound when he came back in (he still wasn't really a jazz singer), but his obvious enthusiasm for the project, coupled with his mastery of phrasing in songs he understood perfectly made him an equal in the partnership. As far as the major-label record business was concerned, the 46-year-old singer might have been over the hill and indulging himself, but in fact he was in his prime and finally able to pursue his ambitions unfettered, and that would prove itself a major boost to his career over time. For the moment, he'd made an excellent jazz-pop hybrid in which both musicians were shown off to advantage. [The album was reissued with five bonus tracks.]

Customer Reviews

Cornerstone of any Tony collection

This album is a great addition to any music collection and perhaps a great next step for somehow who is still exploring the more accessible range of jazz. Tony Bennett is in fine voice and form with an excellent selection of material that might be less well known than his signature standards. It is also a great introduction to Bill Evans' work with a few of his own signature tunes, such as Waltz for Debby in the mix. With the two masters working alone each has plenty of space and time to reveal their talents in shimmering collaboration.

Biography

Born: August 03, 1926 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tony Bennett's career has enjoyed three distinct phases, each of them very successful. In the early '50s, he scored a series of major hits that made him one of the most popular recording artists of the time. In the early '60s, he mounted a comeback as more of an adult-album seller. And from the mid-'80s on, he achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn't been born when he first appeared. This, however, defines Bennett more in terms of marketing than music. He would probably...
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