Tony Bennett

Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett

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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 02:57 SpotifyAmazon
2 02:58 SpotifyAmazon
3 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
4 03:02 SpotifyAmazon
5 02:50 SpotifyAmazon
6 03:05 SpotifyAmazon
7 04:34 SpotifyAmazon
8 03:09 SpotifyAmazon
9 02:17 SpotifyAmazon
10 02:35 SpotifyAmazon
11 02:25 SpotifyAmazon
12 02:47 SpotifyAmazon
13
feat: Art Blakey
03:08 SpotifyAmazon
14 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
15 06:15 SpotifyAmazon
16 04:01 SpotifyAmazon
17 03:12 SpotifyAmazon
18 01:40 SpotifyAmazon
19
feat: Ralph Sharon
03:27 SpotifyAmazon
20 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
21 02:39 SpotifyAmazon
22 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
23 02:57 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:26 SpotifyAmazon
2 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
3 02:37 SpotifyAmazon
4 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
5 02:22 SpotifyAmazon
6 01:56 SpotifyAmazon
7 02:32 SpotifyAmazon
8 02:29 SpotifyAmazon
9 02:40 SpotifyAmazon
10 02:59 SpotifyAmazon
11 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
12
feat: Jo Jones
02:54 SpotifyAmazon
13 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
14 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
15 02:16
16 03:07 SpotifyAmazon
17 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
18 02:17 SpotifyAmazon
19 03:15 SpotifyAmazon
20 02:55 SpotifyAmazon
21 03:06 SpotifyAmazon
22 03:05 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:58 SpotifyAmazon
2 03:16 SpotifyAmazon
3 06:11 SpotifyAmazon
4 02:57 SpotifyAmazon
5 03:39 SpotifyAmazon
6 04:26 SpotifyAmazon
7 03:16 SpotifyAmazon
8 03:03 SpotifyAmazon
9
feat: Al Cohn
04:13
10 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
11 03:42 SpotifyAmazon
12
feat: Jimmy Rowles
03:41 SpotifyAmazon
13 03:08 SpotifyAmazon
14 02:08 SpotifyAmazon
15 03:34 SpotifyAmazon
16 04:01
17 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
18 04:33 SpotifyAmazon
19 03:21 SpotifyAmazon
20 03:40 SpotifyAmazon
21 02:21 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

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

Track Listing - Disc 5

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 04:13 SpotifyAmazon
2 03:31 SpotifyAmazon
3 02:54 SpotifyAmazon
4 02:13 SpotifyAmazon
5 03:33 SpotifyAmazon
6 03:15
7
feat: Ralph Sharon
02:58 SpotifyAmazon
8
feat: Ralph Sharon
02:48 SpotifyAmazon
9
feat: Ralph Sharon
03:12 SpotifyAmazon
10
feat: Ralph Sharon
04:00 SpotifyAmazon
11 03:25 SpotifyAmazon
12 02:36 SpotifyAmazon
13
feat: The Muppets
02:27 SpotifyAmazon
14 04:35 SpotifyAmazon
15 03:57 SpotifyAmazon
16 03:50 SpotifyAmazon
17 04:45 SpotifyAmazon
18
feat: Diana Krall
03:31 SpotifyAmazon
19
feat: B.B. King
03:14 SpotifyAmazon
20
feat: Ray Charles
04:14 SpotifyAmazon
21 03:24 SpotifyAmazon
22 03:19 SpotifyAmazon
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