The transformation of pop singer Lady Gaga into a convincing jazz performer was confirmed last night when a 70-minute set in which she sang with a quintet was streamed globally. The broadcast took place to launch the album Love For Sale, recorded with the now 95-year-old Tony Bennett and released today.
The concert, which was recorded somewhere in the US, was streamed by the retailing company Westfield, with in-person attendance possible at Westfield shopping malls, where fans could see the concert on the big screen. British fans were able to see it in intimate jazz-style theatre settings at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City. The show remains viewable online at youtube.com/c/WestfieldLive until 14 October.
Backed by a five-piece band of saxophone, trumpet, piano, bass and drums plus conductor (possibly the Brian Newman Quintet that appears on the new record and on Gaga and Bennett’s first album, Cheek To Cheek), the dynamic Gaga swept through a set including Luck Be A Lady Tonight, Love For Sale, Call Me Irresponsible, Night And Day, Let’s Do It and New York, New York.
Measuring her original music against her jazz experiences with Bennett, Gaga said in a Q&A session: “While I am so grateful for the love that the world has shown for the music that I have created over the years, the songs that I have written, it really means something extra special to me that they would revere me singing songs that are 100 years old with somebody that has being singing for decades and decades and bringing forth a music that is the greatest American music that exists.”
Regarding jazz, she added: “Jazz music is the greatest music that I believe exists in America and for us to all to be witnessing it together, experiencing it together and coming together to watch it, sing it, to listen to it, to cheer for it . . . this is all that I could hope for.”
One fan suggested jazz was music of the 1920s. Gaga put the record straight, replying: “Jazz music is limitless. In terms of the figures of chords, the way that music is structured, it’s the most liberated music of all music to me . . . And while during the 20s there was jazz, jazz lived far beyond the 20s, like right now in 2021.”
Of singing with Tony Bennett, she said: “I am exponentially a better jazz singer than when I sing by myself, but that’s because we are close and we know each other and even now with Tony having Alzheimer’s when we sing together he still knows it’s me when he hears my voice.
“For me singing jazz with Tony Bennett is the highlight of my career . . . He’s been my musical companion. He is an absolute legend. His legacy is unprecedented and the fact that he shared his talent with me and let me just simply be there while his light shined on me – I am forever grateful.”
Love For Sale, focused on the Cole Porter songbook, is said to be the last studio recording that Bennett, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, will make. It was made in the Electric Lady studio in New York City over a period that concluded in 2020. The duo are accompanied by Tony Bennett’s quartet, the Brian Newman Quintet and a big band, with orchestral arrangements by Marion Evans and Jorge Callandrelli.