Saturday, July 12, 2008

CD Review: The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album

1) Young And Foolish
2) The Touch Of Your Lips
3) Some Other Time
4) When in Rome
5) We'll Be Together Again
6) My Foolish Heart
7) Waltz For Debby
8) But Beautiful
9) Days of Wine and Roses
10) Young And Foolish
11) The Touch Of Your Lips
12) Some Other Time
13) When in Rome
14) Waltz For Debby
If you love jazz, you will love this album. If you're not the die hard jazz fan that I am...don't worry, there's still a good chance you'll love this album. I'd even recommend this to fellow Étudiant Chris DeCarlo, whom you may think of as a "rocker kid". Believe it or not, even he loves a good ballad - his two favorite songs are Roy Orbison's "Crying" and the Beatles' "In My Life".
And long before those pop classics graced us, there was the Great American Songbook. Bennett and Evans perform these standards in a unique way - using only piano and vocals. It was an ambitious undertaking, but, luckily, these guys happened to be jazz masters.
It's hard enough to improvise without backing, but Evans makes almost every other jazz pianist in history look bad by doing so on all 14 tracks. He recalls another of his classic albums, Kind of Blue, by incorporating the riff of "Flamenco Sketches" into "Some Other Time". His solo on that track is a masterpiece in itself - a melody in the high keys backed by chords in the low ones, intensity increasing until it transforms into a grandiose chord melody.
Meanwhile, Tony Bennett has a voice that can move mountains, and if you've heard it, you know I'm not really exaggerating. His tone constantly changes in "When in Rome", but not for one second does it sound contrived. Sinatra would have used an orchestra to make that song swing, and I can imagine his jealousy when Tony did so with only a piano.
Check out this disc so you can hear those tunes, plus other unforgettable classics - the soaring "Young And Foolish", the sensual "The Touch Of Your Lips", plus a vocal version of Evans' own "Waltz For Debby". My apologies to the makers of the many recent "Insert Pop Star Here Sings the Great American Songbook" albums, but we don't need you. Tony and Bill have this job covered, and they do it better than anyone before or since.
***** out of five

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