The Year of Tony Bennett congratulates Tony Bennett, Bill Charlap and everyone at RPM on the 2016 Grammy Nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
My December 2015 copy of DownBeat Magazine arrived this weekend and guess who was on the cover!
Not only did Tony Bennett win the DownBeat readers award for Best Male Vocalist, but also was overwhelmingly named to the DownBeat Hall of Fame.
This issue, which is on the magazine stands now, has a very fine article about Tony Bennett by Michael Bourne. This issue also contains a side article about The Silver Lining, as well as a great five-star review of that album.
The digital edition of DownBeat can be read online here.
The reviews of The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern are starting to come in.
First, an interview with Tony from Marc Myers of The Wall Street Journal and jazzwax.com, my favorite new website.
The New York Times by Nate Chinen Here’s an excerpt:
It does convey a trademark commitment to the American songbook; a proud constancy, undaunted by notions of obsolescence; and a spirit of conversation, with the album’s premise and personnel, and with Mr. Bennett’s own career continuum. The album is jointly credited to the jazz pianist Bill Charlap, and its voice-and-piano intimacy recalls “The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album” of 40 years ago.
The Buffalo News by Jeff Simon. Here’s an excerpt:
it seems to me this disc is damn near perfect
AllMusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Here’s an excerpt:
Often, The Silver Lining features little more than just the singer and the pianist — when they’re augmented by other musicians, it’s just bass and drums, offering a bit of rhythm and color — and this sparseness never seems austere due to the inherent warmth of the musicians’ easy interplay, not to mention their individual voices.
The Milwaukie Journal Sentinel by Piet Levy.
Review from Renowned For Sound website. Excerpt:
Once again Tony Bennett releases an album worthy of jumping in a time machine for: Jerome Kern would be proud.
Amazon.com Editorial Review. Here’s the full review:
The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, is the new album from American musical legend Tony Bennett and acclaimed jazz pianist Bill Charlap. This new release continues the classic series of Tony Bennett album releases celebrating the essentials of the Great American Songbook. The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern is an appreciation of the genius of Jerome David Kern, one of the 20th century’s most important American composers of musical theater and popular music. Jerome Kern was a major force on Broadway and in Hollywood musicals in a career that spanned more than four decades. He expanded on earlier musical theater traditions, from vaudeville to operetta, to embrace new dance rhythms, syncopation and jazz progressions and helped invent the modern musical template. While many of his Broadway musicals and Hollywood musical films were contemporary smash hits, Kern is perhaps best remembered today through revivals of “Show Boat,” one of his signature achievements.
Tony Bennett is the only artist to successfully bridge the worlds of pop music and jazz on an international scale for over 60 years. The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern become parts of a timeless legacy of recordings that Bennett has done throughout his career that have embraced both genres, in particular the revered piano jazz albums that he recorded with the late Bill Evans in 1975 and 1977. Tony has become synonymous with the pop/jazz connection and in recent years has been a mentor to contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse in encouraging them to embrace jazz music. The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern defines what makes Tony Bennett unique in the pantheon of great singers and is a testament to the legacy that he continues to create as a recording artist and influence in the music industry.
Playing alongside Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap on The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern are pianist Renee Rosnes (on the piano duet pieces), Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums). Unrelated, though sharing the same last name, Peter and Kenny have been performing with Bill Charlap for nearly two decades and pianist Renee Rosnes has been Charlap’s life partner for close to 10 years.
With more than 700 Jerome Kern compositions to choose from, the set list for The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern is a distillation of essential highlights from a boundless catalog. With these interpretations of some of Jerome Kern’s finest songs, Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap offer a definitive introduction to Kern’s music while providing a deep understanding of the abiding and universal qualities of these songs.
Who is Monica Lewis and why am I writing about her on a blog about Tony Bennett?
I picked up an issue of The New Yorker (Sept. 7, 2015) and read a completely delightful short article about her by Tad Friend in the Talk of the Town section. I mean, any article that starts off with
You are seeing me at my absolute fucking worst,” Monica Lewis said cheerfully. The ninety-three-year-old entertainer had taken a fall a few days earlier in her apartment at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Retirement Home, near Los Angeles. It fractured her right hip and badly bruised her face. “I’m so surefooted–I’m a dancer, I’ve done pratfalls, all kinds of stunts–and I trip over my own rug.
The article goes on to summarize her life and what a life she had. A singer and an actress, she is probably best known as the voice of the Chiquita Banana jingle. As you can see, she was a beautiful woman and I suspect that even in her nineties, she was still quite the looker.
But what grabbed me and why I wanted to write about her today was the last paragraph in the article.
Her mood turned wistful. “The only one from my era who’s still around still a friend is Tony Bennett.” She sang a snatch from “Cheek to Cheek,” which Bennett and Lady Gaga had performed at the Grammy Awards, her voice bright and full of mischief. “Sinatra, who’d be a hundred this year. he’s gone. Peggy Lee is gone. Eddie Gormé is gone, Ava Gardner, one of my best friends, and Betty Bacall–we were in ‘Johnny 2×4’ together, and she had the measles–they’re gone” Lewis folded her hands in her lap. Ten days later, she would die in her sleep. “The last time I saw Tony, we were crossing the street in New York, on Fifth Avenue. He held his hands up dramatically and stopped traffic, and he hugged me. Then he said, ‘Go now–you can cross.”
If you’d like to know more about Miss Lewis, please visit her website.