Friday, February 26, 2016

TOP STORY >> Another Grammy for Tony

Leader executive editor

Tony Bennett recently won another Grammy award — his 18th — in the best traditional pop vocal category for “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern” (RPM Records/Columbia). The octogenarian Bennett (he’ll be 90 in August) is accompanied by the brilliant jazz pianists Bill Charlap and his wife, Rene Rosnes, who is the second pianist on “The Song Is You” and “Look for the Silver Lining.”

Bennett sings with panache on such Kern classics as “All the Things You Are,” “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” “I Won’t Dance,” “Long Ago and Far Away,” “Dearly Beloved,” “They Didn’t Believe Me,” “Make Believe,” “Nobody Else But Me,” “I’m Old Fashioned,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Yesterdays” and more.

This is the great American songbook, and no one does them better than Bennett, who has been performing for almost 70 years, longer than just about anybody. I prefer Bennett to Frank Sinatra. Bennett’s a great jazz singer up there with Billie Holiday, and, by all accounts, much nicer than Ol’ Blue Eyes. What a blessing to still have him signing and recording, accompanied by two fine jazz pianists who help make this another Bennett classic.

Bennett, who recorded this stunning CD last year at the age of 89, still has a busy tour schedule. He appeared a few years ago in Hot Springs and last November sang “America the Beautiful” at the World Series in his native New York. He’s outlasted his contemporary, B.B. King, who passed away last May at the age of 89 and performed almost till the end.

Bennett has been a singer since 1949, about the same time King started out in Memphis. Their music couldn’t be more different: King’s Delta blues won him fans around the world, and Bennett’s jazz-inflected singing continues to inspire performers young enough to be his grandchildren.

No one else has performed as long as King and Bennett. Although King is gone, Bennett is unstoppable. Perhaps he will return to Hot Springs for his 90th birthday.

In the meantime, enjoy “The Silver Lining,” and, if you want to hear Bennett in his prime, check out his duets with Bill Evans, the greatest jazz pianist of them all.

They recorded “The Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Album” in 1975 and “Together Again” the following year. The duo performs such classics as “Young and Foolish,” “My Foolish Heart,” “But Beautiful,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Some Other Time,” Evans’ beautiful “Waltz for Debby” and more.

“Together Again” includes “Lucky to Be Me,” “Make Someone Happy,” “A Child Is Born,” “Who Can I Turn To?” (an Evans perennial), “Lonely Girl,” “Dream Dancing,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and much more, along with six alternate takes, making for more than an hour of sublime music.