Tony Bennett – The Silver Lining: the Songs of Jerome Kern

On receiving Tony Bennett’s latest CD for review, my first reaction was similar nervous tension.

tonyWhy? Anthony Dominick “Tony” Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926 in Astoria, Queens, New York. He is of course better known as Tony Bennett, the American singer of traditional pop standards, show tunes, and jazz. The clue to nervousness is right there – ‘born in 1926’.  At 89 is Mr Bennett still able to cut it? With some trepidation I readied myself to listen to The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Another reaction was, ‘The Great American Songbook?’ How many more artists are going to tackle this genre?

Another native New Yorker, Jerome Kern (1885-1945) was a major force on Broadway and in Hollywood musicals in a career that spanned more than four decades. He is perhaps best remembered for Show Boat, one of his signature achievements.

He was responsible for more than 770 compositions.

Other great composers associated with The Great American Songbook include George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers, and others.

Wikipedia describes the style of this music as: Despite the relatively narrow range of topics and moods dealt with in many of the songs, the best Great American Songbook lyricists specialized in witty, urbane lyrics with teasingly unexpected rhymes. The songwriters combined memorable melodies – which could be anything from pentatonic (a musical scale or mode with five notes per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale such as the major scale and minor scale. Pentatonic scales are very common and are found all over the world.), as in a Gershwin tune like I Got Rhythm, to sinuously chromatic, as in many of Cole Porter’s tunes – and great harmonic subtlety, a good example being Kern’s All the Things You Are, with its winding modulations.

Bennett is ably supported by The Bill Charlap Trio: Charlap (piano), Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums) and Charlap’s wife Renee Rosnes as a guest pianist.

The fourteen tracks will be well known by lovers of the genre and include: All The Things You Are; Pick Yourself Up; I Won’t Dance; The Way You Look Tonight; and The Song Is You.

This is a great album, especially as Bill Charlap allows Bennett to do what he does well, sing at a tempo and range in a jazz style for which he has become famous.

Yes, as one would expect, Tony Bennett loses a little in the top and extended ranges. You will immediately forgive him! I thoroughly enjoyed this nostalgic trip.

As we approach that ultra-commercial time of the year, the album will make a great gift for the mature jazz music lovers.

The album is a Sony Music release and to listen to the tracks go to:

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-silver-lining-the-songs-of-jerome-kern-mw0002872592

 

Brian Hough© 2015

 

 

 

 

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