Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tony Bennett: Another Birthday, Another Show

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in 2011

After more than sixty years on stage, Tony Bennett - he's turns 88 today - still draws huge audiences to his full concert schedule of tunes from jazz, to Broadway, to the Great American Songbook. Bennett has been at the business so long he's had two careers, a fifteen-year affair with the Greatest Generation, and a now thirty-year reinvention with new artists, music, and audiences following a lull during the rock and roll era. 

Bennett has also been in the forefront of introducing current generations to the Great American Songbook.  Back in 2011 he made an album entitled Duets II. It featured the jazz master singing in tandem with a host of well-known voices from a wide range of musical genres. The album was an instant hit even with the critics and it topped the charts on its debut. By their very nature albums of this type heighten creativity and versatility. And old-timers like Bennett can feel the chemistry at work as well as see the potentials and opportunities emerging from the unexpected. So it was with Lady Gaga, Bennett, and the song, "The Lady is a Tramp."

Lady Gaga? Never paid her much attention beyond the excess.  She does have a voice and some would say a hint of jazz in her music, but to me neither element comes center stage through all the industrial artpop electroganza and its pure sensory overload. Bennett had the skill and experience to see beyond the noise. In fact, he thinks she has one of the finest jazz voices out there today. To make his point, he and Lady will release their jazz album, Cheek to Cheek, in September. Fans can hardly wait.

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