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Tony Bennett Duets 2: The Great Performances (2012)

To mark the occasion of his 85th birthday, Tony Bennett released DUETS II, which made music history, hitting #1 on the Billboard chart. As a follow-up to DUETS: AN AMERICAN CLASSIC, Tony ... See full summary »

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To mark the occasion of his 85th birthday, Tony Bennett released DUETS II, which made music history, hitting #1 on the Billboard chart. As a follow-up to DUETS: AN AMERICAN CLASSIC, Tony once again recorded his greatest hits with today's greatest artists. DUETS II: THE GREAT PERFORMANCES provides a visually-stunning video collection of the full song performances as they were recorded live in the studio. The musical segments are enhanced by insights on the process from Tony and the duet partners, providing an inside look at this landmark album in an unprecedented career. DUETS II: THE GREAT PERFORMANCES is a testament to the artistry and dedication of Tony Bennett, beloved by the performers who sing with him and audiences around the world. Written by Anonymous

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6 March 2012 (USA)  »

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Cash-in exercise or...enduring vanity?
7 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

Too much has been written and said about his Duet Albums. The fact is that, at his age, 87, Mr Bennett cannot make a 'solo' album: his voice is still good but weak and strained, at times. The BIG idea was the "DUETS". In a duet, the singer/crooner shares the vocal weight and duties with another singer, so the job is easier and, in a sense, it distracts the listener, who is pleased to hear who's who is singing, not really caring too much about the singing quality. That says it all. With no offense, Mr Bennet is not able to make it alone, at this point in time. Like for "The Voice", the Duets Albums are for Bennett the lowest point of a twists-and-turns, long albeit admirable discography. They have to do MORE with the 'discovered' glamor and the commercial side of a career than with excellency of a veteran singer's vocals. It has been since 2006 that Mr Bennet has not recorded a solo album. The last one was "Perfectly Frank", on which Tony Bennett pays homage to "the Voice". And even before that, there was "Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues", his truly 'first' duet album: the duet partners included ten singers who range from Diana Krall and k.d. lang to Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Kay Starr, and younger pop stars Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and Billy Joel. Utterly bland and forgettable were the duets with usual suspects Natalie Cole and Sheryl Crow. On "Duers II", apparently the selection of the partners was a very calculated and commercial one as reported by Boston Globe's James Reed :his son (Danny) really checked out who are the very most popular artists at this moment, Bennett himself says. Partly the brainchild of Bennett's son and manager, Danny, the "Duets" series is a calculated project that transcends genres and generations. On the new album, Bennett gives a masterclass to pop stars (Lady Gaga, John Mayer), country belters (Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill), popopera singers (Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban), and a Spanish rocker (Alejandro Sanz). Bennett even enlists other icons for memorable collaborations, including Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson.... The result, as a whole, is good, not great, from the 'vocal' point of view. Now, at 87, Bennett is still singing great. Not quite like he was, of course - who could? - but still pretty amazingly good, even if some of his spot-on vocals might be (but probably aren't) courtesy of his engineer younger son, Dae... On "Duets II", Bennett picks up where he left off on the first Duets album a few years ago by inviting younger talents to share the spotlight with him on some old standards...The charts are pretty good, though they don't rival much of what Bennett did with Ralph Sharon decades ago, or what Nelson Riddle did with Sinatra or even Linda Ronstadt. And the engineering and recording quality are just, well, different than the old days, though Dae Bennett 'pays homage to his father' better than anyone else might be able to. There's no disputing that Mr Benedetto, whose career spans more than six decades, boasts a fine body of work. It's also fair to say that his golden years are now behind him : there's little more dispiriting than the sound of ageing stars frantically chasing after their lost youth. Which makes it all the more distressing that, after some very distinctive playing ( with his standard group, the Ralph Sharon Trio, Basie or Bill Evans ) he has gone into a very poppish, supercommercial, highly hyped adventure like this CD. People are not aware, they buy only what they see on TV... As seen on TV! And right now the very spirited Mr. Bennett is everywhere! Talk show, morning show, evening show, late night show... Grammys, Oscars ! Every day! And now, voilà ! At the end of a spectacularly expensive campaign, started 5 years ago, we see the release of a DVD: " Duets II - The Great Performances". Everything has been calculated and programmed till the smallest detail : the duets sessions were filmed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe ("Chicago," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Collateral")... There's nothing wrong with that, the DVD is worth watching it once. Still we are wondering WHY this DVD has not been released along with the album. Cash-in exercise or...enduring vanity?


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