Tony Bennett began his love affair with duet albums in 2001 with Playin’ With My Friends, which featured the likes of Stevie Wonder and k.d. lang trading fours with the indomitable singer. Since then he’s teamed up with Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga and Elton John, among many others, as well as Diana Krall – yet this is their first full album together. They’re a natural pairing: both have a cool, clear tone and spot-on timing, and favour understatement. All the tracks here are Gershwin compositions and dialogic in arrangement, creating a friendly back-and-forth between the singers. There’s little in the way of extra detail in their exchanges, however – any asides or the like are kept reserved, and relatively minimal instrumentation completes the less-is-more picture.
Fascinating Rhythm is particularly worth a listen, especially in comparison with the debut single Tony Bennett, then Joe Bari, put out in 1949; it’s energetically pacey yet unhurried, and certainly belies Bennett’s 92 years. The two singers do also split up for a couple of solo numbers, with Krall’s thoughtful, poignant reading of But Not For Me being especially effective. Listeners familiar with the two singers’ styles and the Gershwin canon (and who here isn’t?) will find little to surprise them in this set, and that’s no bad thing: expect just over half an hour of top-notch versions of top-notch songs from dyed-in-the-wool jazz singers, and that’s exactly what you’ll get.
S ’Wonderful; My One And Only; But Not For Me; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Love Is Here To Stay; I’ve Got Rhythm; Somebody Loves Me; Do It Again; I’ve Got A Crush On You; Fascinating Rhythm; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; Who Cares (36.00)
Bennett (v); Krall (v); Bill Charlap (p); Peter Washington (b); Kenny Washington (d). No place info, 2018.