Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
Love Is Here To Stay
Since his son helped reinvent his career some 25 years ago Tony Bennett has played a simple, familiar card: Warm, weathered versions of the standards with which he made his name (the first time around). The Unplugged album was the thing that relaunched him big time – next thing he was touring with the hip young things as a gentle, elder statesman.
And he’s made the duet album a staple too – recording a full album with Lady Gaga and before that a lovely set with k.d. Lang as well as a couple of multi-artist get-togethers and regular guest appearances from a range of pop and rock and jazz singers on his other studio recordings over the last quarter-century.
He’s a dab hand, a dependable set of lungs and, at 92, it’s simply astonishing that he’s doing anything let alone anything as good as he’s offering.
Diana Krall is his duet partner here – they’ve worked together before on a song or two but this is their first full shared album. But they’re logical song-buddies, both have the deepest respect for The Great American Songbook and so here it’s all about one significant chapter within that: The great Gerwshin songs.
Krall is here as purely a singer – though she’s of course no slouch when sitting at the keys. But the instrumentation has been left entirely to Bill Charlap (and his trio). Performing a similar function – custodians, keepers, conduits – that Ralph Sharon had offered across Bennett’s career. Charlap brings with him Kenny Washington on drums and (unrelated) Peter Washington on bass; they’re a longserving trio in their own right. And their approach here is tender, just right. Soft brushes rustle across the snare as Bennett and Krall take turns to croon their parts of I’ve Got A Crush On You, it’s a brisker walk through I Got Rhythm of course; the opener, ‘S Wonderful, really does set the tone, the joyful bounce of the piano, the magnetism of the duet partners and the surety of the rhythm section as a whole, working as one.
There’s nothing bad about this set at all – it’s really a case of being the perfect sum of all elements: great songs, players, vocalists; a no-brainer.
Krall is getting better and better with age, and – somehow – Bennett is too.
This really is wonderful, it’s marvellous, awfully nice. It’s paradise. What I love to hear.
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