When Tony Bennett took the stage at Las Vegas’ Sahara on April 8, 1964 he was riding high. Bennett was in the business of creating standards, after all. During that seminal year, he released three studio albums immortalizing such songs as “When Joanna Loved Me,” “The Rules of the Road,” and “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me).” Columbia Records recorded Bennett’s show live from the Sahara’s Congo Room, but the recording sat on the shelf until 2011 when it was included in Bennett’s Complete Collection box set. Now, roughly two years after the release of that box, Columbia, RPM and Legacy Recordings are granting Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas 1964 a standalone release in CD and digital formats, due October 8. It follows the recent release of Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962, which preserves for posterity a remarkable 1962 performance from Bennett and jazz great Dave Brubeck.
Accompanied by longtime musical director Ralph Sharon and his trio as well as Louis Basil’s orchestra, Bennett delivered a diverse set. Three songs appropriately came from 1964’s Bennett/Sharon Trio collaborative LP When Lights are Low: Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s “The Rules of the Road” (previously recorded by the singer in 1961), Billy Mayhew’s “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie,” and Fats Waller’s classic “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Robert Emmett Dolan and Johnny Mercer’s showtune “I’m Way Ahead of the Game” from their short-lived musical Foxy was recorded for When Lights are Low but left unreleased until 2011. Other selections were still fresh from Bennett’s two albums released in 1963. From I Wanna Be Around..., Tony performed its title song by Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt – still one of his signatures today – as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado).” From This Is All I Ask, the Sahara audience heard the Al Jolson chestnut “Keep Smiling at Trouble (Trouble’s a Bubble)” and Tex Satterwhite and Frank Scott’s “The Moment of Truth.” The latter song’s title was also featured on the Sahara’s marquee which proudly read, “The Moment of Truth – Tony Bennett” to trumpet the singer’s engagement.
After the jump: more about Live at the Sahara, including the full track listing and pre-order link!
Bennett’s Vegas setlist was wide-ranging, looking back to his earliest records like 1950’s “Sing You Sinners.” He also found room for his 1953 hit “Rags to Riches” written by the Broadway team of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees) Steve Allen’s bright “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” Coleman and Leigh’s “Firefly,” Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s torch song par excellence “One For My Baby (And One More for the Road),” and of course, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Bennett’s performance of Cole Porter’s 1951 song “From This Moment On” lent the original Complete Collection CD presentation its title. (That title has been amended for this release from Live at the Sahara: From This Moment On to Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas 1964.)
No album-specific liner notes were included in The Complete Collection, but Bill Sullivan provides a new essay for this release. Sullivan writes, “Tony was in a dark suit and black bow tie, standing before a shimmering gold curtain with backing by his forever pianist and arranger, Ralph Sharon; Ralph’s bassist Hal Gaylord; Ralph’s drummer Billy Exiner; and the Louis Basil orchestra. If you were anywhere else in Las Vegas that night, you were missing it."
On Friday, October 11, Bennett, 87, will play New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The occasion marks his first performance at the fabled venue since 2007. Such is the strength of Bennett’s timeless repertoire that it’s likely that the lucky audience there will hear a number of songs performed at the Congo Room in 1964 such as “I Wanna Be Around” and, of course, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Live at the Sahara: From This Moment On will arrive in stores just days before the Radio City concert. Michael Brauer has mixed the concert and Mark Wilder has mastered it for CD. For those who don’t already own The Complete Collection, here’s your chance to order this sizzling, swinging record from the legendary Tony Bennett!
- Overture (The Moment of Truth)
- This Could Be the Start of Something Big
- It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie
- Ain’t Misbehavin’
- Rags to Riches
- Keep Smiling at Trouble (Trouble’s a Bubble)
- Time After Time
- Sing You Sinners
- One For My Baby (And One More for the Road)
- The Rules of the Road
- One For My Baby (And One More for the Road) (Reprise)
- From This Moment On
- Comedy Routine
- I’m Way Ahead of the Game
- Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)
- Once Upon a Time
- Lullaby of Broadway
- Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)
- I Left My Heart in San Francisco
- I Wanna Be Around
- I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Reprise)
- Finale (The Moment of Truth)
All tracks first released on Live at the Sahara: From This Moment On, included in The Complete Collection (Columbia/RPM/Legacy 88697 87460-2, 2011)