In the documentary film The Zen of Bennett, Tony Bennett says “I like what I do. And my ambition is to get better as I get older. That’s what I’m about really.”
In Viva Duets, Tony Bennett makes good on that. At 86, he sounds as good as ever on this album. After a series of several very successful duets albums with British and American singers, he now collaborates with the greats of Latin music, representing artists from Europe, South America, Central America, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
If I had to just use one word for this album, that word would be joy. The relationships between Tony Bennett, most of whom he had never worked with, are a joy to hear and I suspect that sense of joy in the music was present in the recording studio. Nothing on this album is forced; it sounds as fresh as new, as if Tony Bennett were recording it for the first time.
Apart from one song, each of the songs on this album are standards that Mr. Bennett has recorded and performed for most of his career. The album starts with The Best Is Yet To Come, sung with Chayanne, shines the light on the swinging arrangements to come.
While all of the songs are wonderful, there are a few that deserve special mention.
The Way You Look Tonight, with Thaliá, with its sensitive and evocative guitar work by Gray Sargent, is one of my favorite songs on the album. Thaliá and Mr. Bennett sing this song as if they’ve been singing it together forever; both singers sing with a light, easy touch that serves the song well. Sung in both English and Spanish, this song is a hit.
Tony Bennett first recorded Cold, Cold, Heart in 1951. Sixty years later, this time sung with Vicentico, this song still touches the heart. The arrangement features, again, lovely guitar work by Mr. Sargent and wonderful harmonies between the singers.
Regresa A Mi (Return To Me) is my candidate for the best song on this album. The arrangement of this popular standard, made famous by Dean Martin, is quite exceptional and the singing with Vicente Fernández is even greater. If one didn’t know the original, you would have to assume that the album included this lovely old Ranchero-style song on an album of standards. These two great singers are each legendary throughout the world and this performance of these two great men is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Year of Tony Bennett highly recommends this album highly.
- The Best is Yet To Come, with Chayanne
- The Way You Look Tonight, with Thaliá
- Steppin’ Out With My Baby, with Christina Aguilera
- For Once In My Life, with Marc Anthony
- Are You Havin’ Any Fun? with Dani Martín
- The Good Life, with Franco De Vito
- Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me), with Gloria Estefan
- Just In Time, with Juan Luis Guerro
- Cold, Cold Heart, with Vicentico
- I Wanna Be Around, with Ricardo Arjona
- Rags to Riches, with Romeo Santos
- Return To Me (Regresa A Mi), with Vicente Fernández