CD reviews

CD REVIEW: Tony Bennett and Diana Krall with the Bill Charlap Trio – Love Is Here To Stay

Tony Bennett and Diana Krall with the Bill Charlap Trio – Love Is Here To Stay
(Verve Records. CD Review by Jane Mann)

Tony Bennett and Diana Krall clearly relish the music of George and Ira Gershwin and this new CD celebrates their shared love of Gershwin’s work, and Bennett and Krall’s fruitful working relationship over the last twenty years.

The CD is released to coincide with the 120th anniversary of George Gershwin’s birthday. Sadly, Gershwin died when he was 37. Bennett on the other hand, has just turned 92. He is, remarkably, still in excellent voice. I was lucky to hear him sing in the Royal Albert Hall just before his 80th birthday – the sound balance was not great that evening, and at one point Bennett abandoned his microphone and sang unamplified. His mellifluous voice filled the huge space – an amazing thing to hear. Those bel canto singing lessons in his youth in New York seem to have paid off, as his voice seems almost unchanged since I last heard him.

Bennett started singing professionally in the 1940s. His first recording was in 1949 under his then stage name of Joe Bari – a version of Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm. Some 69 years later he records it again here, this time as a duet with Canadian jazz star Krall. Their voices are so well suited – they both sing with clarity and refinement so you don’t miss a word of Ira Gershwin’s witty lyrics, and it helps that they clearly get on. The track I’ve Got A Crush On You exemplifies this great pairing of musicians. You can hear the rapport between them, in the way Krall tenderly sings “sweetie pie” to Bennett and he chuckles softly at the end of the song.

There are no lush orchestral arrangements with banks of strings here, just the top notch Bill Charlap Trio – Charlap on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. They play impeccably, each a jazz stalwart in their own right. They play with the same economy and expertise as the singers –  no self-indulgence or filling.

The whole recording is an exemplar of sophisticated music making, with perfect phrasing, rhythm and melody. The songs selected include very well known hits from the shows which have become jazz standards, and some that were less familiar to me. Two of my favourites: I’ve Got A Crush On You, which first appeared on Broadway in Treasure Girl  in 1928 and My One And Only, written for Funny Face in 1927, have not been recorded by either Krall or Bennett before.

Even the songs which have been sung and recorded many times appear fresh. Both singers have that ability of the perfect vocalist to deliver lyrics so familiar as to be almost trite, but make them meaningful again. I love it when the  lyrics from a familiar tune pop out at me like a revelation rather than as an atmospheric blur of moons and Junes and doobie doos.

This is a delightful album which will please fans of both of these highly accomplished artists, and I shall be playing it a lot.

Tony Bennett – voice
Diana Krall – voice
Bill Charlap – piano
Peter Washington – bass
Kenny Washington – drums

Track Listing:
1. ‘S Wonderful
2. My One And Only
3. But Not For Me (Diana Krall solo)
4. Nice Work If You Can Get It
5. Love Is Here To Stay
6. I Got Rhythm
7. Somebody Loves Me
8. Do It Again
9. I’ve Got A Crush On You
10. Fascinating Rhythm
11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
12. Who Cares? (Tony Bennett solo)

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