Saturday, June 03, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Steppin' out with Tony Bennett

This week, let's check out some videos featuring singer Tony Bennett, who will be returning to St. Louis to perform next Wednesday, June 7 at the Fox Theatre.

Bennett, still remarkably active for a 90-year-old, has stayed newsworthy into the 21st century, thanks most recently to the Duets albums pairing him with currently popular singers ranging from Lady Gaga to Carrie Underwood.

On his own in concert, Bennett's distinctive voice inevitably is showing some effects of age, but his performances continue to please audiences who appreciate his taste in songs, superb timing, choice of musicians, and continued craftsmanship as a singer and showman.

Today's collection of videos shows off those attributes as they have evolved over the last 40 years, from the present day back to the mid-1970s. To start, you can get a sense of Bennett's approach to a song circa 2015 in the first video up above, a duet with pianist Bill Charlap on "The Way You Look Tonight" as recorded on their album The Silver Lining: The Music of Jerome Kern.

After the jump, you can see Bennett and one his most storied duet partners, pianist Bill Evans (who's also an important inspiration for Charlap), in Together Again, a half-hour television special recorded in 1976 for the Canadian TV network CBC. While this period may have been a low point in history for Bennett in terms of commercial appeal and critical notice, the performances provide clear evidence that he was still singing very well.

Below that, there are four more recent live shows, recorded over a 20-year period beginning as Bennett's career entered a second act, nearly unprecedented in pop culture, in which he became more popular than ever.

The first complete show is from 1991 at the Prince Edward Theatre in London, England, followed by Bennett's set from the 2002 Newport Jazz Festival.

Next, in a performance that foreshadows those Duets projects, you can see Bennett joined by singer k.d. lang for a 2002 concert in San Francisco. The final video is from Bennett's 85th birthday concert in 2012 at the London Palladium, and includes guest performances from British singers Cleo Laine and Leona Lewis.

For more about what Tony Bennett has been up to recently, check out his interview from last November on the Boston radio station WBUR, and his video interview from April 2017 with PBS' Tavis Smiley.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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