Few vocalists have earned what Tony Bennett enjoys: the absolute authority of recording exactly what he wants, exactly the way he wants. And when recording an album of love songs, easily the most common of all conceptual works, no other singer would have the talent to capture both the edges and the subtleties to make what has been tried, many ...
Few vocalists have earned what Tony Bennett enjoys: the absolute authority of recording exactly what he wants, exactly the way he wants. And when recording an album of love songs, easily the most common of all conceptual works, no other singer would have the talent to capture both the edges and the subtleties to make what has been tried, many times, sound true. But this is a quality that Bennett -- never a jazz singer, always a "song" singer -- has possessed throughout his career. The Art of Romance is a record, as described by producer Phil Ramone, "that communicates with those in love, out of love and everywhere in-between." Love isn't all rosy, of course, and it's rendered in such saloon-song soft-focus by Bennett and his small group (plus light string accompaniment) that it never sounds pass? -- an achievement in itself. Many of these are love songs with a crooked smile, whether it's a brief celebrity-page linking that unexpectedly turns into love ("All in Fun") or songs about the end of love, such as "Where Do You Start" and "I Remember You," a pair of evocative ballads charting love leaving and love only half-remembered. Ironically, Bennett contributes one of the most tender songs, making his debut as a composer on "All for You" with a set of lyrics to one of his favorite tunes, Django Reinhardt's gypsy-jazz classic "Nuages." Remarkably, The Art of Romance marks the debut of these 11 songs in his recorded repertoire. While a few are classics that are nearly as old as Bennett himself, many of them are rarely performed nuggets from the post-vocal era, by such composers as Johnny Mandel, Stephen Sondheim, and Alan and Marilyn Bergman. ("Time to Smile," a buoyant, inspirational piece, marks the debut of the song in anyone 's recorded repertoire; it's an older composition by Johnny Mercer and Geoffrey Clarkson only discovered in 2004.) Approaching the age of 80, Tony Bennett has only a few grains in his voice and a bit of strain in the energy of his performances, nothing that a listener wouldn't be able to forgive of a man 25 years younger. ~ John Bush, Rovi
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