The music that made Lady Gaga famous was not really my sort of thing, nor was it aimed at antediluvian geezers like me. Nonetheless, I always recognised that there was a special talent at work. Moreover, she seemed to have an emotional sincerity that is by no means common in commercial music, so I admit to being pleased when she turned out to be genuinely committed to jazz and was able to be a worthy partner to Tony Bennett on Cheek To Cheek, their first album together. On this follow-up (which is likely to be Bennett’s last album as he is, sad to say, suffering from Alzheimer’s) the mutual respect is again evident.
The spontaneity (possibly well-rehearsed) and clearly genuine warmth in the interactions between Bennett and Gaga add to the pleasure the vocal performances give. Gaga has been quoted as saying: “Frank Sinatra said he [Bennett] was the best singer in the world and I don’t think Frank lied.”
I’d agree with that: Bennett has always been my favourite amongst the post-Crosby generation. (In addition I have admired him for his commitment to the civil rights movement, not least his participation in the Selma March of 1965.) Whilst his voice has seemed a little fragile, the way he uses it is exemplary, and he inhabits songs with a sincerity and empathy that few have matched.
I cannot give higher praise than to say that Gaga is never eclipsed by him and again shows her skill in the genre. As an example, on Let’s Do It (strongly associated with Noel Coward and Eartha Kitt) she moves effectively from a smooth, laid-back opening verse to swinging mode for the rest of the track, putting her own stamp on the song.
I should mention that I have reviewed the standard edition. Internationally, across different markets, there are variations available that include additional tracks.
It’s De-lovely; Night And Day; Love For Sale; Do I Love You (Gaga solo); I Concentrate On You; I Get A Kick Out Of You; So In Love (Bennett solo); Let’s Do It (Gaga solo); Just One Of Those Things (Bennett solo); Dream Dancing (41.08)
Bennett, Gaga (v) with, collectively, Tony Bennett Quartet, Brian Newman Quintet and big band arranged by Marion Evans and Jorge Callandrelli.