What would happen if an inventive jazz record label decided to blend a great singer of standard-pop ballads with an outstanding jazz pianist? The two artists would be on their own--no other musicians--just the two of them, performing a number of time-honored classics.
Well, there was such an occurrence in June of 1975, at the Fantasy Recording Studios in Berkeley, California, when and where Tony Bennett and Bill Evans were recorded. A better result could not have been imagined.
Tony Bennett, a legend in his own time, was not recognized as a jazz singer. But jazz pianist Ralph Sharon was his accompanist for a dozen years, and other jazz musicians were included when Bennett recorded with ensembles of varied size. So, recording with a legendary jazz pianist like Evans didn’t frighten him.
Bill Evans was not known for accompanying singers; his fame had been established by making music with instrumentalists the likes of Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, and a host of other jazz greats and near-greats.
But on the recording date mentioned, Bennett and Evans rose to the occasion and recorded some gems...cut and polished them to a dazzling luster, and set them in the CD, simply titled: the Tony Bennett-Bill Evans Album.
"My Foolish Heart," "The Touch of Your lips," "We’ll be Together Again," "The Days of Wine and Roses," and others are included.
This dynamic duo recorded another CD three years later. But they hadn’t saved their best until last: in my humble opinion, their first meeting was their best!
Bill Evans died in 1980, two years after their second encounter. Thirty-four years after Evans' passing, and at age 85, Tony Bennett is still an on-stage and recording marvel. --BP