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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Complete Recordings

Fantasy 0888072312814

[77:26 + 75:26]



CD 1
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. 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 - Tony Bennett
17. Maybe September
18. Lonely Girl
19. You Must Believe In Spring
20. Who Can I Turn To?
21. Dream Dancing

CD 2
1. Young And Foolish
2. The Touch Of Your Lips
3. Some Other Time
4. When In Rome
5. Waltz For Debby
6. The Bad and The Beautiful (alternate take 1)
7. The Bad and the Beautiful (alternate take 2)
8. Make Someone Happy (alternate take 5)
9. You're Nearer (alternate take 9)
10. A Child Is Born (alternate take 2)
11. A Child Is Born (alternate take 7)
12. The Two Lonely People (alternate take 5)
13. You Don't Know What Love Is (alternate take 16)
14. You Don't Know What Love Is (alternate take 18)
15. Maybe September (alternate take 5)
16. Maybe September (alternate take 8)
17. Lonely Girl (alternate take 1)
18. You Must Believe in Spring (alternate take 1)
19. You Must Believe in Spring (alternate take 4)
20. Who Can I Turn To (alternate take 6)

Tony Bennett (vocals)
Bill Evans (piano)
rec. 1975 and 1976, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA.


The meeting of Bill Evans and Tony Bennett – the two had something of a mutual appreciation society – was a mid 1970s highpoint. At the time aficionados of the pianist in particular must have expressed doubts, but seen in the cool, clear light of hindsight the rendezvous was not the jarring mismatch it might have seemed. In fact there was a degree of self-interest at work, beyond the musical meeting of minds, given the commercial clout Bennett carried and the cachet Evans commanded in the jazz fraternity.

Fantasy’s slimline double CD gives us the works. It contains the first 1975 album called The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album and adds the meeting from the following year, entitled with punctilious obviousness Together Again. There is also a swathe of alternative takes – Fantasy persists in the fantasy that these are called ‘alternate’ takes – and two bonus tracks from the latter album; Who Can I Turn To? and Dream Dancing.

Given that there are often two alternative takes from the Together Again sessions this is a serious investment for admirers of one or both men. Duplication is rife and the differences between takes small though sometimes worthy of note. It’s a completist release, obviously.

The results of the meeting are enshrined in their exploration of the sacred heartland of America’s popular songbook. Evans’s harmonic sophistication is never pushed beyond the vulnerable limits of a singer-and-pianist (hardly accompanist) collaboration. There is no real sense of a disjointed meeting. Sometimes there is an element of braggadocio in the singing that doesn’t sit too well. The Touch Of Your Lips for example hasn’t worn well, and sounds forced. But, more often than not, there is stylistic and - more to the point - expressive unity between the two in their espousing of the Great American Songbook. Whether they stretch out, as in My Foolish Heart – rather beautifully done – or pursue a more succinct approach, as they do in The Days of Wine and Roses, their responses are fused.

The second album opened with an Evans solo on The Bad And The Beautiful. Possibly, and I’d be no more confident than that, the most impressive song here is Make Someone Happy, a splendid example of Evans’s articulate piano and Bennett’s apt singing in a performance of timeless sophistication. To those for whom Evans’s romanticism is all, I would cite his glorious filigree in Lonely Girl.

There are extensive notes by Will Friedwald whose fusion of biographical precision and nerdish hyperbole always makes for entertaining reading – if you want to wade through seventeen pages of it, that is.

Jonathan Woolf


See also an additional review by Tony Augarde

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