Tony Bennett Tony! [LP] Vinyl

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Tony Bennett Tony! [LP] Vinyl. Though unimaginatively titled, Tony Bennett's second 12" LP Tony is a more ambitious effort than his first, Cloud 7. The earlier disc employed a small band, but Tony uses two separate larger ensembles, a jazz big band arranged and conducted by Ray Conniff for all of the first side and "Always" on the second side, and a string orchestra arranged and conducted by Percy Faith for the rest. Bennett may be relying on current songwriters for his hit singles, but this is a collection stocked with standards written by the great interwar songwriters of stage and screen -- Irving Berlin, Al Dubin, Vernon Duke, Duke Ellington, Sammy Fain, Dorothy Fields, George & Ira Gershwin, Jimmy McHugh, Harry Warren, Kurt Weill, and Vincent Youmans, among others. Conniff provides punchy neo-swing charts, particularly on the side-ending "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," while Faith's strings provide lush, wistful underpinnings to the often-sad sentiments of the ballads on the second side. Bennett matches the arrangements with his vocal performances, keeping pace with the jazzy horns or soaring above the sweet strings. He tries a retake of his first Columbia Records recording, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," in a slightly less exaggerated but still fruity performance. His "Lost in the Stars" uses only an acoustic guitar accompaniment for much of its length, the better to get across its melancholy message. Tony presents Tony Bennett as a timeless balladeer quickly outgrowing his status as belter of hit singles, and not a moment too soon. ~ William Ruhlmann


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