My initial reaction to the performances on this CD is, of course, amazement at the reality that Bennett continues to be at the top of his form in doing that which he has achieved fame for, since the Second World War.
I am perfectly aware that there are those who do not like his singing style, and I am not in any way defending the entity of Tony Bennett as I write this. Personal taste and resultant opinion are factors that need not be the subject of assault - after all; no argument is, from what I can gather, ever won or lost.
What is astounding to me is that, unlike any pop artist I know of, Bennett continues to make a statement in his particular field of the art that averts the reality that this man is months away from his 90th year.
In addition, he is singing with a vocalist who is 60 - odd years younger than he, and the result is an event of two aspects; one, Bennett is capable of melding with and shaping the form of his style around an artist who is young enough to be his granddaughter. And, two; this young singer is, in my view, as sensational as Bennett, in that her styling and completing a picture of such stylistic compatibility in tunes that Bennett has been singing for generations, which helps form one of the most unique singing duos in pop music history. They are so wonderfully comfortable with one another that their performances remind me of the marvelous synergy of 'oneness' created by the two great jazz/pop musicians pianist George Shearing and vocalist Mel Torme. They bonded in the same fashion and performed together for years. Torme himself remarked that what he and Shearing accomplished, as a unit, was "as if we were two minds in one body." What is different is these two men were pretty much out of the same generation.
One additional issue about all of this is that Bennett, at age 88, and Shearing and Torme, as grandfathers, represent the face of Youth, with its words of love and hope forming so much of the base of pop music.
Listen to Bennett, or Shearing, or Torme, with 'eyes closed' - you hear the sounds of the young expressing their emotions and experiences in real time.
There were and are other pop artists who will always defy their ages in performance, such as Sinatra, or Ella Fitzgerald, and many others - that is the elemental nature of pop music. It MUST have either a smile on its face so much of the time, or the yearning, searching nature that is endemic to being young.
The Bennett/Lady Gaga CD encapsulates all of this so well - the most amazing reality is these two are sixty years apart...
Labels: two minds in one body...