Archive for the ‘Tony Bennett’ Category
What happens when two legends collide?
Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will have the answer for you with the May 28 premiere release of Bennett and Brubeck – The White House Sessions: Live 1962 from Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck. In the true spirit of jazz, the performance by these two titans on August 28, 1962 was largely unplanned. Both men – Brubeck with his Quartet and Bennett with his Ralph Sharon-led ensemble – were appearing at the behest of President John F. Kennedy’s White House. The occasion was an end-of-summer concert at Washington DC’s Sylvan Theatre to thank college-age interns who had served that summer in the nation’s capital. Following solo sets, they agreed to a once-in-a-lifetime summit, included in full on this historic new release.
Disc jockey William B. Williams, of radio’s Make Believe Ballroom fame, first introduced Brubeck, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello and Paul Desmond for a four-song set that kicked off with “Take Five” from 1959’s seminal Time Out. Brubeck was still riding the crest of the album’s success at the time of the Washington performance. Tony Bennett could also be said to have been on top of the world. Bennett’s now-signature song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was capturing hearts here, there and everywhere as it first appeared on the Billboard charts a scant seventeen days prior to the performance. Williams returned to introduce Bennett, accompanied by Ralph Sharon on piano, Hal Gaylord on bass and Billy Exner on drums. “San Francisco” had already earned the coveted closing spot in Bennett’s six-song set, and many of the standards surveyed by Bennett are still songs he performs today. The singer opened with three Jule Styne compositions from Broadway – “Just in Time” from Bells Are Ringing, “Small World” from Gypsy and “Make Someone Happy” from Do Re Mi, and also surveyed songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (“Rags to Riches”) and Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer (“One for My Baby”).
After the jump: details on the Bennett/Brubeck summit including the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »
The multiple Grammy-winning producer, 79, died on Saturday, leaving behind a legacy of song from artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Paul McCartney, Barry Manilow to The Band. Yet unlike so many of his contemporaries, Phil Ramone didn’t have a signature style. Instead of molding a band or singer to a preferred sonic specialty, he was a true architect of sound, tailoring each production to the individual artist. Ramone was equally comfortable with pop, rock, jazz, R&B, and the worlds of Broadway and Hollywood, not to mention classical – the genre in which Ramone started his love affair with music, as a Juilliard-trained violin prodigy.
Phil Ramone modestly titled his 2007 memoir Making Records, because that’s precisely what he did, from the day he and partner Jack Arnold opened the doors of New York’s A&R Studios in 1959. Prior to that, he had been mentored by Charles Leighton at JAC Recording. At A&R, Ramone perfected the art of engineering. He earned his first Grammy for Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s immortal Getz/Gilberto, and soon A&R was the preferred destination for producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David to craft their movies-in-miniature with Dionne Warwick. Ramone’s eclectic C.V. as an engineer and later, producer, took in pop princesses (Lesley Gore), folkies (Peter, Paul and Mary), jazz legends (Tony Bennett), superstars (Barbra Streisand), Beatles (Paul McCartney), Geniuses (Ray Charles), and Chairmen (Frank Sinatra), as well as everyone in between.
Chicago, Phoebe Snow, Kenny Loggins, Carly Simon, B.J. Thomas, Liza Minnelli, Rod Stewart, and of course, Paul Simon and Billy Joel all logged studio time with Phil Ramone at the console. With Simon, Ramone helmed such beloved albums as There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Still Crazy After All These Years, still cornerstones of the singer-songwriter’s catalogue. With Joel, Ramone embarked on a seven-album, nine-year partnership that remains one of the most successful in rock history. The duo also hold a place in the history books, as Joel’s 52nd Street, produced by Ramone, became the first commercially released compact disc when it hit stores in Japan on October 1, 1982.
To every project, Ramone brought an understated, subtle touch of class that squarely put the emphasis on music and sound: making each musician and singer’s contribution heard, cleanly and resonantly. Even a partial list of songs with Ramone’s involvement is staggering: “Times of Your Life,” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” “It Never Rains in Southern California,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born),” “Loves Me Like a Rock,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Afternoon Delight,” “Poetry Man,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Maniac.”
Phil Ramone could have ushered in 2013 basking in the glow of acclaimed recent albums from Dionne Warwick and Tony Bennett, but he remained active. At the time of his death, he was working on a variety of characteristically diverse projects with artists such as George Michael and Glee star Matthew Morrison. Bette Midler eulogized him as “kind beyond words,” echoing the sentiments of so many others. Ben Folds called him “brilliant, generous, talented,” while Tony Bennett noted his “wonderful sense of humor and deep love of music.” To celebrate the career of the legendary Phil Ramone, Mike and I have each contributed a playlist of ten favorite projects on which he worked. These aren’t necessarily his most significant, or his most famous, though some might indeed be. Taken together, they simply represent twenty slices of the versatility, dynamism and sheer hallmark of quality that made Phil Ramone an in-demand talent, and sympathetic collaborator of so many, for over fifty years.
If there’s a rock-and-roll heaven, you know they’ve got one helluva band, true. But now there’s one helluva producer sitting at the desk.
Hit the jump for two interactive Phil Ramone Top 10s! Read the rest of this entry »
Taj Mahal, The Complete Columbia Albums Collection (Columbia/Legacy)
Townes Van Zandt, Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions and Demos 1971-1972 (Omnivore)
Barbra Streisand, Classical Barbra: Expanded Edition (Masterworks)
Billy Paul, Going East: Expanded Edition / Dick Jensen, Dick Jensen / Azteca, Azteca: Expanded Edition / Pyramid of the Moon: Expanded Edition / Tyrone Davis, In the Mood with Tyrone Davis: Expanded Edition / Carmen McRae, I Am Music (Big Break)
Jewel, Greatest Hits (Atlantic/Rhino)
One of the biggest country-pop hitmakers of the ’90s releases her first compilation with a new single and two new duet recordings of previous hits with Pistol Annies and Kelly Clarkson. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
Tony Bennett, As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook Classics (Concord)
Deep Purple, Slaves and Masters: The Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)
Boris Midney and Festival, Evita/The Empire Strikes Back (Harmless)
A compelling documentary on one of the best songwriters of his age, newly released on DVD. (Amazon U.S.)
Short Takes, Classic Pop Edition: What’s Coming From Willie Nelson, Bing Crosby, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett
Today’s Short Takes looks at a variety of upcoming releases with one thing in common: great vocalists in the tradition of the Great American Songbook!
First up, let’s take a look at an album of new recordings from a favorite reissue label. One genre has never been enough to contain the musical restlessness of Willie Nelson. The country legend and honky-tonk hero created his own standards with his early songs such as “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” before paying tribute to the Great American Songbook of yore with 1978’s chart-topping Stardust. Since that seminal album, the prolific Nelson has made frequent returns to the realm of standards of both the pop and country genres. His latest such effort arrives from our friends at Legacy Recordings on April 15.
Roughly two weeks before Nelson celebrates his 80th birthday on April 30, Legacy will release Let’s Face the Music and Dance from Willie Nelson and Family. Recorded in Austin, Texas and produced by Buddy Cannon, the album of all-new recordings is titled after the 1936 Irving Berlin song. He’s joined by Family, the band he formed with his sister Bobbie Nelson (on piano), drummer Paul English and Mickey Raphael on harmonica. They’re accompanied by Paul’s brother Billy English (keeping it all in the family, after all) on electric gut string and snare drum, Kevin Smith on upright bass and Jim “Moose” Brown on B-3 organ. Willie’s son Micah Nelson, who contributed to Nelson’s 2011 Legacy debut Heroes, contributes percussion. Pop, rock, jazz and country classics all have found a place on Let’s Face the Music and Dance, including songs from Carl Perkins (“Matchbox”), Frank Loesser (“I Wish I Didn’t Love You So”), Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”) and Django Reinhardt (“Nuages”).
Willie’s celebratory jaunt through some of the songs that have shaped his own musical legacy hits stores on April 15.
The U.K.’s Sepia Records label continues to offer a number of rare vocal, soundtrack and cast album treats, many of them available as a result of the U.K.’s current public domain laws. Last month’s batch of reissues included titles from Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and Enoch Light. Come February 12, Sepia will release the following:
Pat Boone, I’ll See You in My Dreams/This and That – Sepia continues its series dedicated to Pat Boone with this new release. The label is supplementing two original Boone LPs with seven bonus tracks, and many of these tracks have not appeared on CD outside of Bear Family’s complete box sets. Rather than being in rock-and-roll mode here, Boone tackles standards including “That Old Black Magic,” “My Blue Heaven,” “The Tennessee Waltz” and even “Peg o’ My Heart.”
Jane Morgan, What Now My Love/At the Cocoanut Grove – The great chanteuse’s final two albums for Kapp Records, both from 1962, are joined together on one CD. What Now My Love, a collection of torch songs, is notable for having been arranged and conducted by the young Burt Bacharach. It includes Bacharach and Bob Hilliard’s song “Waiting for Charlie to Come Home.” (Morgan first recorded a new Bacharach song with 1959’s “With Open Arms.” Around the time of the LP, Bacharach recorded his “Forever My Love” with Morgan as the B-side to the single of “What Now My Love,” and he also arranged and conducted a Terry Gilkyson song, “Ask Me to Dance,” for her.) Cocoanut Grove features Jane on extended medleys of Paris-themed songs and tunes popularized by actress/singer Lillian Russell (1860-1922).
Tony Mottola, Roman Guitar 2/Spanish Guitar – Sepia pairs two 1962 Command Records LPs from session guitarist extraordinaire Tony Mottola on one CD. Roman Guitar 2 made it all the way to No. 46 on the U.S. Billboard album chart and contains performances of Italian-themed favorites like “Funiculi Funicula.” For Spanish Guitar, Mottola turned to “Tico-Tico,” “Granada” and even “Lady of Spain.” Mottola continued to record into the 1980s, but this pair of albums finds the guitarist in his prime, making music ready-made for dancing in front of the hi-fi.
Original Soundtrack Recordings, The Road to Hong Kong/Say One for Me – Two rare soundtracks starring Bing Crosby have been collected on one CD. From 1962 and 1959, respectively, The Road to Hong Kong and Say One for Me have never previously been available on CD. The original Liberty Records soundtrack to Hong Kong finds Crosby and Bob Hope joined by Joan Collins and Dorothy Lamour; Columbia’s Say One for Me album features Debbie Reynolds and Robert Wagner.
After the jump: Wounded Bird revives a long out-of-print title from the Queen of Soul, and travel with Tony Bennett as time goes by! Read the rest of this entry »
Weekend Wround-Up: Barbra Streisand Joined by Bennett, Wonder, Krall on DVD and BD; Pixar Compiles More “Favorites”
On February 11, 2011, Barbra Streisand joined some illustrious company, including Bono, Brian Wilson, Aretha Franklin and her “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” duet partner, Neil Diamond. That was the evening Streisand was recognized as the MusiCares Person of the Year, following in the footsteps of those above-named artists. Streisand was a natural candidate for the honor, as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences annually bestows it upon an artist with significant artistic achievement in music and commitment to philanthropy. Part of the MusiCares tradition finds that person being celebrated by a line-up of peers and younger talent, and so that evening, Streisand was joined in Los Angeles by Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder and others, to perform many of the songs she made famous throughout her career. On November 13, Shout Factory will release A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand on DVD, with a selection of the performances from the celebratory concert.
Diana Krall was in the producer’s chair for Streisand’s 2009 album Love is the Answer, and she opens the Blu-ray/DVD with a medley of three famous Streisand songs: “Down with Love,” “Get Happy,” and “Make Someone Happy.” The first two, of course, were co-written by Harold Arlen, one of Streisand’s most admired composers. Tony Bennett, who has performed with both Krall and Streisand in the past, performed a rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” (the opening track of Streisand’s 2003 The Movie Album). Barry Manilow offered his take on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn’s “Memory” from the musical Cats; both Brooklyn natives released the song as a single and made the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 AC charts with it. Stevie Wonder performed Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s “People” from Funny Girl with Arturo Sandoval, and Jeff Beck offered a scorching “Come Rain or Come Shine” (another Arlen song) with LeAnn Rimes and BeBe Winans. The younger set was represented not only by Rimes, but by Leona Lewis (“Somewhere” from West Side Story), Faith Hill (Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns”) and a trio of stars from Glee (Lea Michele with Fanny Brice’s signature song, “My Man,” and Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth reprising their television duet of Bacharach and David’s “One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home” in Streisand’s arrangement). Streisand herself brings the DVD to a close with performances of “The Windmills of Your Mind” and “The Promise (I’ll Never Say Goodbye).”
A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand is due for release on November 13 and follows Shout! Factory’s last MusiCares release celebrating Neil Young. Pre-order links are currently not available, but we will add them as soon as possible! You’ll find the complete track listing after the jump, down below!
Last week, Walt Disney Records quietly released a second volume of modern-day classics from Pixar’s animated films. The new Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites follows 2009’s Disney-Pixar Greatest, which brought the studio’s output up to date as of the Academy Award-winning Up. In addition to revisiting some of the films represented on the first compilation with newly-compiled tracks, All-Time Favorites adds songs and score cues from Toy Story 3 (2010), Cars 2 (2011) and this year’s Brave.
Randy Newman is, of course, prominently featured, singing “I Will Go Sailing No More” from 1995’s Toy Story and “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, while his compositions are also sung by Riders in the Sky (“Woody’s Round-Up” from 1999’s Toy Story 2), the Gipsy Kings (the Spanish-language “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story 3). Newman’s scores from A Bug’s Life (1998) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) are also excerpted. Randy’s cousin Thomas Newman is represented via score excerpts from the just-about-to-be-re-released Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL-E (2008), while another frequent member of the Pixar team, Michael Giacchino, takes the spotlight for tracks from 2007’s Ratatouille, Cars 2 and 2004’s The Incredibles. One song and one score cue appear from Brave: Julie Fowlis’ rendition of Alex Mandel’s “Into the Open Air,” and Patrick Doyle’s “In Her Heart.”
Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites is available in stores now, and can be ordered after the jump! You’ll also find the complete track listing there. Read the rest of this entry »
The titular phrase from a song by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart could apply to much of Tony Bennett’s musical career, now in roughly its 65th year. It’s also the title of a new compilation aimed at the casual Bennett fan from Concord Music Group. Isn’t It Romantic? (CRE-33463-02) repackages 15 prime cuts from the singer’s work at his own short-lived Improv label, with a smattering of tracks from a Fantasy Records LP thrown in for good measure. Though Bennett’s artistic accomplishments at Improv were numerous, its output was small; the label only released ten or so albums. Indeed, every track on this new set was released in a less-than-two-year period between 1975 and 1977. Following the demise of Improv, Bennett took a break from recording, recharged his batteries, and emerged in 1986 back at his old home Columbia Records. Revitalized with the aptly-named album The Art of Excellence, Bennett hasn’t stopped striving for excellence since.
The small body of work made by Bennett at Improv has been mined numerous times by Concord in the past, most notably on 2004’s The Complete Improv Recordings, a box set (Concord CCD4-2255) chockablock with alternate takes and unreleased material, all of which proved manna for collectors. More casual fans could content themselves with releases like last year’s The Best of the Improv Recordings (CRE-32955). As for Isn’t It Romantic? , it follows Tony Bennett Sings for Lovers (Concord CCD-6023, 2009) as another set of amorous tunes from this short if fertile period. Hit the jump to explore this latest collection! Read the rest of this entry »
The last five deluxe reissues of the Queen catalogue, which began last year for the 40th anniversary, are now available domestically (they came out in the U.K. in November). So if you’ve missed these, now’s the chance to get them without importing ‘em.
Big Country, The Crossing: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMC)
From the U.K., one of the most criminally underrated albums of the ’80s, expanded with B-sides and a bonus disc of rare and unreleased demos.
Pet Shop Boys, Format: B-Sides and Bonus Tracks 1996-2009 (Parlophone)
Two discs of PSB B-sides from 1996 to 2009, a sequel to 1995′s Alternative, which served the same purpose for the band’s early flipsides.
Tony Bennett, Isn’t It Romantic? (Concord)
Bennett’s Improv-era material compiled for lovers, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Todd Rundgren, A Cappella + Nearly Human + 2nd Wind (Edsel)
Two ’80s and a ’90s album on two discs from the U.K. label.
Goldfrapp, The Singles (Astralwerks)
The great dance-pop duo closes out their major-label contract with a compilation of singles and the by-now requisite pair of new tracks.
John Williams/The London Symphony Orchestra, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Classical)
A reissue of the original, single-disc soundtrack (with one bonus track from the double-disc Ultimate Edition reissue) to tie in with the 3-D re-release of the film this Friday.
Well, Valentine’s Day is less than one month away, and chances are some of you might be looking for the perfect accompaniment for that moment when you turn the lights down low, pour your favorite vino and share amorous thoughts with your better half. If so, Concord Music Group has one such offering for your hi-fi. Isn’t It Romantic? is a new 15-track offering due on February 7, drawing on Tony Bennett’s recordings for the Improv and Fantasy labels, originally released between 1975 and 1977.
Bennett founded Improv Records in 1975 with the determination of an industry veteran ready to make a statement of creative freedom. He had concluded a long tenure at Columbia Records and a two-album deal for MGM when Improv was born, and although the label only released some ten albums in its short lifetime, its music resonated with the full power of what we now call The Great American Songbook. A glance at some of the songwriters represented on Isn’t It Romantic? proves this: Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter.
More than one-third of the tracks originated on The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album, the first collaboration between Bennett and the jazz pianist, known for his sensitive work as a pioneer of the modal jazz style. Bennett and Evans made for incredibly sympathetic partners, and their work together is mood music of the highest order. Three tracks come from their 1977 follow-up, Together Again, recorded for Improv.
Though nothing is present from the freewheeling Tony Bennett/The McPartlands and Friends Make Magnificent Music, each one of Bennett’s other Improv albums is represented. From the original Sings 10 Rodgers and Hart Songs comes three cuts including “Isn’t It Romantic?,” written by the team for the 1932 motion picture Love Me Tonight. Its “sequel” (from the same 1973 recording sessions with the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet) Sings More Great Rodgers and Hart has yielded “My Romance,” from the 1935 musical Jumbo. Finally, 1975’s Life is Beautiful has been culled for both its title track (gifted to Bennett by its songwriter, Fred Astaire!) and Herman Hupfeld’s “As Time Goes By,” introduced in the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody’s Welcome but immortalized on the silver screen in 1942’s Casablanca.
Hit the jump for more, including the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »
With the 54th Annual Grammy Awards mere weeks away on February 13, it’s getting close to one of music’s most vaunted pre-Grammy traditions: the release of the annual Grammy nominees compilation.
Due out January 24, 2012 Grammy Nominees compiles exactly the artists you’d expect, from multiple award nominees (British soul songstress Adele, pop acts Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, modern rock legends the Foo Fighters and country star Taylor Swift) to rising stars (rappers J. Cole and Nicki Minaj, alt-rockers Foster the People, dubstep artist/producer Skrillex). At 22 tracks from Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera to Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse, it’s every bit the who’s who of pop music in 2011 you’d expect.
But there’s a bit of an interesting twist this year: fans who buy the album, either physically or digitally, will be able to participate in a contest with a grand prize of tickets to next year’s Grammy Awards. Details on that event are here, and details of the album are after the jump.