Monday, September 19, 2011

Elton at Tony Bennett's Birthday

In last night's introduction, former President Bill Clinton said Tony Bennett had "perfect pitch in both life and music" -- and the maestro proved it throughout his 85th-birthday celebration.
At the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, Bennett along with guests such as Aretha Franklin and Elton John wowed the sell-out audience.

While Bennett's actual birthday was last month, the party was delayed to tie into tomorrow's release of his new "Duets II" album.

For a guy who's been around the block as many times as he has, there aren't many firsts left. Playing the Met was one. This headlining debut at America's most important opera house was a milestone -- where Bennett showcased why he's the Dean of American jazz vocalists. The program had heart, soul and swing.

Besides John who sang, "If I Ruled The World" and Franklin, who offered "How Do You Keep The Music Playing," Bennett also paired off with international Latin vocal star Alejandro Sanz singing, "Yesterday I Heard The Rain."

Backed by his own quartet, the man crooned and the band breezed through laid-back guitar, piano, brushed drumming and bass arrangements that never overpowered Bennett's vocals.
The 90-minute program leaned heavily on the greatest hits, such as "Smile" and "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got That Swing."

As towering a figure as Bennett has been over the last six decades, he has common man appeal that goes beyond his vocal interpretations. At this show, in a series of songs that included "I Got Rhythm," "For Once In My Life" and "The Good Life," dapper Tony explained how to ride the roller coaster of love.

He's sung these ballads hundreds of times, but at the Met, the signature hesitancy in his phrasing lent his delivery an immediacy that felt like he was searching his soul rather than his memory for lyrics.

As he always does, Bennett proves to the crowd -- and himself -- that he can still hit the back wall of the theater.

At the Met, he tested the world-class acoustics by putting down his mike and without amplification lifting off with "Fly Me to The Moon."

Tony's rockets were already blasting, but his extraordinary demonstration of vocal strength defied gravity, earning him a three-minute standing ovation.

- NY Post

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