[86] Tony Bennett and Bill Evans – The Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Album

28 Nov

I didn’t expect to find Tony Bennett in the 1,000, but Tom Moon has uncovered the perfect unexpected showcase for his instantly recognizable voice.

Bennett and Evans

Bennett and Evans

I like Tony Bennett.  He has a wonderful warm vocal tone and usually picks engaging pieces.  I don’t even mind that he has always been something of parody of himeslf – I like the self-aware, self-effacing wink that has been present throughout his career.

And none of this is the focus of the album he recorded in 1975 with jazz pianost Bill Evans.  In this piano-and-vocal-only collection, it is the piano which stars.  Evans’ playing is deliberate and powerful, following wherever Bennett leads and in doing so somehow passing him by, at times leaving him behind.

Both artists appear to like it that way.

The songs are almost familiar, mostly lesser known members of the Great American Songbook rendered obscure by the decisions of the performers exploring far beyond what the composers may have had in mind.

To hear the piano playing under, over and around the distinctive vocal sound is to be aware of both effect and affect.

Evans makes sure you hear the work going into the performance, the concrete effort behind each note, each decision.  And the effort pays off in the way the choices move the listener – unusually, I am far more affected by the instrument than by the lyric.

The recording is beautiful and complex, inviting contemplation and reflection on its own terms, waving off preconceptions and insisting on just one more play.

Next Week:  Alban Berg – Wozzeck

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 86 = 10%)
Heard before blogging? No. (12 of 86 = 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (69 of 86 = 80%)

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