Monday, October 3, 2011

CD Review: Tony Bennett Duets II

Tony Bennett has just released his new CD, "Tony Bennett Duets II", as a follow-up to his highly successful first Duets CD. Ever since Sinatra released his first and second "Duets" format several years ago, more and more artists are turning to this duets format. From my perspective, I really love these CD's because they all seem to be covering tunes out of the "Great American Songbook".  The two Sinatra Duet  CD's are still two of my favorite CD's. I think this format works because it uses some of the greatest songs ever written sung by a combination of a great seasoned singer with other great singers who in most cases have not recorded songs out of the "Great American Songbook". The last part of the Duet format might just be the most important, it needs to be produced by Phil Ramone.  I don't remember ever hearing a CD that Phil Ramone produced that I didn't love! And I am not alone  respecting the talents of Mr. Ramone who has received 36 Grammy Nominations and 14 Grammy Awards. Bennett's Duets II follows his formula and the results are outstanding.  I love almost all of these Duet CD's because I get to hear new recordings of the songs I love and because, I get to listen to artists that don't usually record this the standards. For the most part, I always seem to be caught off guard by these artists whose taste in music is materially different than my musical tastes and how great they sound singing standards. I find it difficult to listen to some of today's newer music of  and evaluate the quality of the performers' voices and talents.   But when I hear them sing a great standard, I find it easy to evaluate their future musical potential.  In the Bennett CD I heard some singers that I knew, but were not favorites of mine, sing standards that knocked me off my chair.  For example, on Track One Lady Gaga singing "The Lady Is A Tramp". I find it hard to focus on Lady Gaga's voice with all the distractions going on when she performs.  But singing this standard, she is nothing short of outstanding. I know she sells millions of CD's but none of them turn me on compared to hearing her singing one of the great old songs.  Another example on Track Three Amy Winehouse singing the great old chestnut, "Body And Soul". Singing doesn't get any better than this! What a shame we lost her so young! And on Track 5, k.d. lang singing Blue Velvet. I have listened to many of Ms. Lang's CD's and to me they are all just ok.  But everything she has done singing standards with Tony Bennett are exceptional in every way, and her voice reminds me of Jo Stafford. In my opinion, everyone of the 17 tracks on this CD are keepers.   This is a CD worth buying because you will be playing it over and over again for a long time.  All the songs selected by Tony Bennett are just great, and take a look at the lineup of great singers that join him:

Andrea Bocelli
Michael Buble'
Mariah Carey
Natalie Cole
Sheryl Crow
Aretha Franklin
Josh Groban
Faith Hill
Norah Jones
Lady Gaga
k.d. lang
John Mayer
Willie Nelson
Queen Latifah
Alejandro Sanz
Carrie Underwood
Amy Winehouse



  1. Regarding Tony Bennett and the proliferation of duets. Maybe you saw the piece a week ago on CBS Sunday Morning regarding the odd couples that have collaborated including: Wynton Marsallis/Eric Clapton – and Lou Reed/Metalica which sound crazy but interesting - and of course all those done by Bennett.

    FYI there was a really interesting article in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago about the session with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. If

  2. Thanks, Ken: I did see the CBS piece and I think these "Odd Couple" CD's are just what the music industries needs to do to revive music sales that continue to tank. I was very impressed with the quality of Lady Gaga's voice and her musically ability singing "Lady Is a Tramp". I intend to give her past CD's another close look and hope she decides to do more standards in the future.


CD Review: "Five Play Live from the Firehouse Stage"

Five Play is a popular Jazz Band where five remarkably talented women musicians perform with a deep sense of traditional Jazz band m...