Here we have two overlooked Tony Bennett albums from the late 60s – a decade of mixed fortune for the singer. It started with him at the pinnacle of his success with numerous hits and a justified reputation. By the end, with the advent of beat groups and a decline in popular interest, it became more difficult for vocalists, even of the quality of Bennett.
Of the two, Tony Makes It Happen is more jazz influenced, Bennett’s distinctive voice and relaxed style at ease with the material, occasionally changing the lyrics, altering his phrasing and length of notes – sustaining and holding some, shortening others. John Bunch’s piano is quietly apparent throughout, with some beautifully sensitive and appropriate inflections, although it’s a pity some of the band’s soloists aren’t featured more, as there are some first rate players in trombonist Urbie Green, tenor saxophonist Bobby Tricarico and trumpeters Joe Wilder and Joe Newman. Snatches are all too brief.
As well as the jazz numbers there is Robert Farnon’s Country Girl, on which Bennett gives a near perfect performance – wistful and pensive. (Scott Walker recorded the definitive version of this on his TV programme soon after, quite possibly influenced by Bennett’s take and giving it a similarly sensitive treatment.)
For the 1968 album Yesterday I Heard The Rain, there is a definite change in orchestration, with Torrie Zito arranging the accompanying lush strings, although Get Happy uses a driving brass sound, Bennett going into scat mode at the end, as does There Will Never Be Another You. He also covers Blossom Dearie’s tribute number, Sweet Georgie Fame, acknowledging the popularity of the younger man, with its great line “Your goose is cooked, you’re getting hooked, on Georgie Fame.” Zito’s arrangement is at times not far from something that Harry South might have done for Fame.
Although I can’t help feeling that these albums weren’t amongst Bennett’s best, there are enough good points to justify having a listen and it’s worth getting for Country Girl alone.
On The Sunny Side Of The Street; A Beautiful Friendship; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; What Makes It Happen; The Lady’s In Love With You; Can’t Get Out Of This Mood; I Don’t Know Why; I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart; Country Girl; Old Devil Moon; She’s Funny That Way; Yesterday I Heard The Rain; Hi-Ho; Hushabye Mountain; Home Is The Place; Love Is Here To Stay; Get Happy; Fool Of Fools; I Only Have Eyes For You; Sweet Georgie Fame; Only The Young; There Will Never Be Another You (65.04)
Bennett (v) with: (Tony Makes It Happen!) Marion Evans & his Orchestra featuring Urbie Green (tb); Milt Hinton (b); John Bunch (p); Joe Wilder, Joe Newman (tp); Bobby Tricarico (ts); Joe Soldo (f); Corky Hale (hp); Sol Gubin (d). 1967. (Yesterday I Heard The Rain) Torrie Zito & Orchestra. 1968.
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