Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

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Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett Review

by Richard S. Ginell

When the first version of this impressive box set was originally released in 1991 (as Forty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett), it put the capstone upon Tony Bennett's remarkable return to prominence by looking back at a legacy that had been overshadowed by that of the colossus Sinatra. The collection methodically traced his career from his first Columbia record, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," in 1950, through the hit singles and key or capriciously selected album tracks up until 1972. Then, after borrowing three tracks from Fantasy's 1975 Tony Bennett/Bill Evans project (including an exquisite "Some Other Time" with a "Peace Piece" introduction from Evans), the box leapt ahead 11 years to contemplate Bennett's unlikely resurrection as an icon of the cynical young. From there, Fifty Years departs from its predecessor by adding a fifth disc which, at 23 tracks, boosts the total from 87 to 110 tracks. Bennett's unlikely popular success during the '90s and 2000s is surveyed with a parade of Grammy winners, including selections from 1993's Perfectly Frank, 1994's Steppin' Out and MTV Unplugged, 1999's Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot and Cool, and 2002's A Wonderful World (among others).

Bennett's early records are almost operatic in feeling, a honey-smooth Italian tenor building toward histrionic climaxes, but the voice eventually busts loose into an outgoing, life-celebrating baritone, and, by the 1980s, reemerges as a darker, softer, even somewhat raspy replica of itself. There isn't much for the jazz listener here other than an occasional session with Count Basie (dig their ebullient "Lullaby of Broadway" together), a few cameos by jazz names, the Evans tracks, or some upbeat charts by Ralph Sharon, Ralph Burns, and a few others. Ultimately, the most striking difference between Bennett's records and Sinatra's is the sheer, unbeatably high quality of arrangements that Sinatra was able to get. Yet despite the abundance of period MOR treacle, many of these records are more interesting than memory recalls; for example, it's difficult to resist such a naïvely joyous track as Frank DeVol's rendering of "Put on a Happy Face" that has the Mitch Miller era written all over it. There is no better Tony Bennett retrospective at any price, although jazz specialists might be better served by the Jazz compilation.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tony Bennett 02:57 SpotifyAmazon
2 Tony Bennett 02:58 SpotifyAmazon
3 Tony Bennett 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
4 Tony Bennett 03:02 SpotifyAmazon
5 Tony Bennett 02:50 SpotifyAmazon
6 Tony Bennett feat: The Ray Charles Singers 03:05 SpotifyAmazon
7 Tony Bennett 04:34 SpotifyAmazon
8 Tony Bennett 03:09 SpotifyAmazon
9 Tony Bennett 02:17 SpotifyAmazon
10 Tony Bennett 02:35 SpotifyAmazon
11 Tony Bennett 02:25 SpotifyAmazon
12 Tony Bennett 02:47 SpotifyAmazon
13 Tony Bennett feat: Art Blakey 03:08 SpotifyAmazon
14 Tony Bennett feat: George Van Eps 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
15 Tony Bennett 06:15 SpotifyAmazon
16 Tony Bennett feat: Count Basie Orchestra 04:01 SpotifyAmazon
17 Tony Bennett 03:12 SpotifyAmazon
18 Tony Bennett 01:40 SpotifyAmazon
19 Tony Bennett feat: Ralph Sharon 03:27 SpotifyAmazon
20 Tony Bennett 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
21 Tony Bennett 02:39 SpotifyAmazon
22 Tony Bennett 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
23 Tony Bennett 02:57 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tony Bennett 03:26 SpotifyAmazon
2 Tony Bennett 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
3 Tony Bennett 02:37 SpotifyAmazon
4 Tony Bennett 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
5 Tony Bennett 02:22 SpotifyAmazon
6 Tony Bennett 01:56 SpotifyAmazon
7 Tony Bennett 02:32 SpotifyAmazon
8 Tony Bennett 02:29 SpotifyAmazon
9 Tony Bennett 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
10 Tony Bennett 02:59 SpotifyAmazon
11 Tony Bennett 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
12 Tony Bennett feat: Jo Jones 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
13 Tony Bennett 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
14 Tony Bennett 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
15 Tony Bennett 02:16
16 Tony Bennett 03:07 SpotifyAmazon
17 Tony Bennett feat: Will Bronson Singers 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
18 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:17 SpotifyAmazon
19 Tony Bennett 03:15 SpotifyAmazon
20 Tony Bennett feat: Dick Hyman / The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:55 SpotifyAmazon
21 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:06 SpotifyAmazon
22 Tony Bennett feat: Bobby Hackett / The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:05 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:58 SpotifyAmazon
2 Tony Bennett 03:16 SpotifyAmazon
3 Tony Bennett 06:11 SpotifyAmazon
4 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:57 SpotifyAmazon
5 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:39 SpotifyAmazon
6 Tony Bennett 04:26 SpotifyAmazon
7 Tony Bennett 03:16 SpotifyAmazon
8 Tony Bennett feat: Will Bronson Singers / The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:03 SpotifyAmazon
9 Tony Bennett feat: Al Cohn 04:13
10 Tony Bennett 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
11 Tony Bennett feat: Bobby Hackett / Joe Marsala 03:42 SpotifyAmazon
12 Tony Bennett feat: Jimmy Rowles 03:41 SpotifyAmazon
13 Tony Bennett 03:08 SpotifyAmazon
14 Tony Bennett 02:08 SpotifyAmazon
15 Tony Bennett feat: Tommy Flanagan 03:34 SpotifyAmazon
16 Tony Bennett 04:01
17 Tony Bennett 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
18 Tony Bennett feat: Bobby Hackett 04:33 SpotifyAmazon
19 Tony Bennett 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
20 Tony Bennett feat: Corky Hale / Joe Soldo 03:40 SpotifyAmazon
21 Tony Bennett 02:21 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tony Bennett 03:05 SpotifyAmazon
2 Tony Bennett 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
3 Tony Bennett 02:11
4 Tony Bennett 04:42 SpotifyAmazon
5 Tony Bennett 02:50 SpotifyAmazon
6 Tony Bennett 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
7 Tony Bennett feat: John Bunch 03:04 SpotifyAmazon
8 Tony Bennett 03:29 SpotifyAmazon
9 Tony Bennett feat: London Philharmonic Orchestra 03:19 SpotifyAmazon
10 Tony Bennett 03:54 SpotifyAmazon
11 Tony Bennett 04:08 SpotifyAmazon
12 Tony Bennett feat: Bill Evans 04:42 SpotifyAmazon
13 Tony Bennett 04:49 SpotifyAmazon
14 Tony Bennett 03:37 SpotifyAmazon
15 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 04:21 SpotifyAmazon
16 Tony Bennett 03:02 SpotifyAmazon
17 Tony Bennett 04:06 SpotifyAmazon
18 Tony Bennett 04:28 SpotifyAmazon
19 Tony Bennett 01:13 SpotifyAmazon
20 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 01:49 SpotifyAmazon
21 Tony Bennett 03:07 SpotifyAmazon
22 Tony Bennett 02:57 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 5

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 04:13 SpotifyAmazon
2 Tony Bennett feat: Ron Anthony / Chuck Berghofer / Gregg Field / Frank Sinatra 03:31 SpotifyAmazon
3 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
4 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
5 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:33 SpotifyAmazon
6 Tony Bennett feat: The Ralph Sharon Trio 03:15
7 Tony Bennett feat: Ralph Sharon 02:58 SpotifyAmazon
8 Tony Bennett feat: Ralph Sharon 02:48 SpotifyAmazon
9 Tony Bennett feat: Ralph Sharon 03:12 SpotifyAmazon
10 Tony Bennett feat: Ralph Sharon 04:00 SpotifyAmazon
11 Tony Bennett 03:25 SpotifyAmazon
12 Tony Bennett 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
13 Tony Bennett feat: The Muppets 02:27 SpotifyAmazon
14 Tony Bennett 04:35 SpotifyAmazon
15 Tony Bennett 03:57 SpotifyAmazon
16 Tony Bennett 03:50 SpotifyAmazon
17 Tony Bennett 04:45 SpotifyAmazon
18 Tony Bennett feat: Diana Krall 03:31 SpotifyAmazon
19 Tony Bennett feat: B.B. King 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
20 Tony Bennett feat: Ray Charles 04:14 SpotifyAmazon
21 Tony Bennett feat: Paul Langosch / Lee Musiker / Gray Sargent / k.d. lang 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
22 Tony Bennett feat: Paul Langosch / Lee Musiker / Gray Sargent / k.d. lang 03:19 SpotifyAmazon
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