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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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TONY BENNETT & BILL EVANS

The Complete Recordings

Fantasy 0888072312814

 

 


CD1
The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album (1975)
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
Together Again (1976)
10. The Bad and the Beautiful
11. Lucky To Be Me
12. Make Someone Happy
13. You're Nearer
14. A Child Is Born
15. The Two Lonely People
16. You Don't Know What Love Is
17. Maybe September
18. Lonely Girl
19. You Must Believe in Spring
Bonus tracks from the 1976 sessions
20. Who Can I Turn To?
21. Dream Dancing

CD2
Alternate takes from the 1975 sessions
1. Young and Foolish (take 4)
2. The Touch of your Lips (take 1)
3. Some Other Time (take 7)
4. When in Rome (take 11)
5. Waltz for Debby (take 8)
Alternate takes from the 1976 sessions
6. The Bad and the Beautiful (take 1)
7. The Bad and the Beautiful (take 2)
8. Make Someone Happy (take 5)
9. You're Nearer (take 9)
10. A Child Is Born (take 2)
11. A Child Is Born (take 7)
12. The Two Lonely People (take 5)
13. You Don't Know What Love Is (take 16)
14. You Don't Know What Love Is (take 18)
15. Maybe September (take 5)
16. Maybe September (take 8 )
17. Lonely Girl (take 1)
18. You Must Believe in Spring (take 1)
19. You Must Believe in Spring (take 4)
20. Who Can I Turn To? (take 6) 

Tony Bennett - Vocals
Bill Evans - Piano

 

Is Tony Bennett an out-and-out jazz singer? Certainly he has recorded with plenty of jazz musicians - including Count Basie, Duke Ellington and pianist Ralph Sharon, Tony's long-time accompanist. Yet Bennett often seems on the edge of jazz - a crooner rather like Frank Sinatra, a vocalist that Bennett admired enormously.

At any rate, the question is answered decisively by the two albums he recorded with Bill Evans in 1975 and 1976. Tony Bennett comes across as a true jazz vocalist, aided and abetted by Bill Evans's impeccable accompaniments. As Bill Evans himself said: "Look, Tony Bennett is a jazz singer. And that's because a jazz singer has the ability to give a rather spontaneous performance that's flexible, with phrasing, and a sensitivity to beat, time and nuance. Tony has all that in abundance".

Both musicians are noted for their delicacy, and the result of bringing them together is delicate and tasteful. Bennett was at the height of his powers: singing with great feeling, acceptable intonation and sensitive phrasing. Just hear, for instance, how long he holds the final note of the very first track (at least a dozen seconds). And note now he starts the next track unaccompanied: something very difficult for vocalists to achieve. And heed how the song modulates through a rising series of keys.

Evans was the perfect accompanist: listening intently to Tony, filling in the gaps he left and adding gorgeously harmonic solos. In his improvisations, Bill generally stayed close to the tune, as these recordings are - among other things - a celebration of enduring popular melodies.

So it is good to have these two superb albums together on one CD. And the second CD contains some remarkable alternate takes. The fact that some of them are labeled "take 16" and "take 18" makes one wonder what other riches there are in the archives. Were all the other takes false starts or complete performances?

Still, the duplication makes for some interesting comparisons. Compare, for example, the two versions of Young and Foolish. The alternate take includes the seldom-heard verse, which the version released on the 1975 album omits. Bill Evans's piano solo on the released take seems slightly more pensive than the fourth take, which has hints of double tempo. Yet both performances stand up in their own right and it is good to have them both.

The original second album opens with a piano solo from Bill Evans on David Raksin's theme from the film The Bad and the Beautiful. Tony Bennett deliberately put the piano solo here, to surprise the listener and to show that it was more than just a Tony Bennett album with accompaniment. In fact they work together as an exemplary team: deferring to one another and responding sympathetically to what the other person is doing.

As well as answering my opening question, this double album is eminently listenable and a glorious example of empathy between the duettists. Even if you have got the two original albums, you may want to buy this set for the extra takes it contains. If you haven't got the originals, you should order this now.

 

Tony Augarde 



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