Jake’s Take: Tony Bennett’s Legendary Duets

For the past two decades, the legendary Tony Bennett recorded duets with an all-star group of artists. (Photo property of Live Nation)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

The legendary Tony Bennett is performing at his hometown of New York City this Friday at Radio City Music Hall.

This concert will not only be Jake’s Take’s first time attending an event at the legendary entertainment venue but to seeing Tony Bennett, who is one of the last living interpreters of the Great American Songbook.

To commemorate this occasion, Jake’s Take looks back at some of Tony Bennett’s impeccable duets with 11 amazing vocalists.

(Album cover property of Sony Music Entertainment)

#10: “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” with Gloria Estefan (2012)

The Queen of Latin Pop was one of the recording artists that Mr. Bennett recruited to record his 2012 album: Viva Duets. Mrs. Estefan’s perfect voice blended well with Tony’s artistry and gave me a strong case of goose pimples.

#9: “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” with Haley Reinhart (2011) & Christina Aguilera (2012)

Tony Bennett performed Irving Berlin’s classic tune twice with two bombastic vocalists. In 2011, the Jazz great performed with one of American Idol’s most versatile singers: Haley Reinhart. Both Haley and Mr. Bennett had perfect chemistry, and they had a great time performing on the Microsoft Theatre stage. One year later, Mr. Bennett recorded “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” with The Voice’s Queen Bee, Christina Aguilera, for Viva Duets. Christina’s superb vocal performance gave new life to this song and was a highlight of the 2012 album.

#8: “For Once in My Life” with Stevie Wonder (2006)

Two music legends came together to record one of Stevie Wonder’s greatest songs of all-time. While many listeners might miss the upbeat and peppery arrangement, “For Once in My Life” showcases two masters of their craft together blend their voices for an epic recording session.  Their work earned them the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration and earned them the respect of their mutual fan bases.

 

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga Cheek to Cheek

(Album cover property of Interscope Records & Columbia Records)

#7: “I Won’t Dance” with Lady Gaga (2014)

Every decade, Tony Bennett has a duet partner that brings his artistry to a new level. He had instant chemistry with Lady Gaga when the duo recorded “The Lady is a Tramp” in 2011. Three years later, the pair reunited for an excellent studio album: Cheek to Cheek.  One of my favorite tracks from this superb record is “I Won’t Dance.” This track beautifully showcases both Gaga’s vocals and the electric friendship.

#6: “Smile” with Barbra Streisand (2006)

In 1936, silver screen luminary Charlie Chaplin recorded the instrumental theme to one of his iconic movies: Modern Times. However, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added lyrics to the song in 1954 and Nat King Cole breathed new life into the tune.  In 2006, Tony Bennett asked Barbra Streisand (who previously recorded the song for her 2003 studio album: The Movie Album) to re-introduce the song to a new generation. Their collaboration also served as the opening to his 2007 television special: Tony-An American Classic.

#5: “Evenin’” with Ray Charles (2001)

When Tony Bennett wanted to record a Blues album, he turned the Genius to record the Mitchell Parish-Harry White-penned track. From start to finish, the two music legends recorded an excellent track that hopefully inspired a younger generation to seek out jazz and blues artists.

 

(Album cover property of Sony Music Entertainment)

#4: “Body & Soul” with Amy Winehouse (2011)

Five months before the “Rehab” singer-songwriter tragically passed away, Amy Winehouse received the opportunity of a lifetime: record a song with Tony Bennett. This recording of “Body & Soul” is one of the most haunting duets in Mr. Bennett’s songbook and showcases why Amy Winehouse was an integral artist for her generation. “Body & Soul” has been viewed over 23 million times on YouTube and received the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

 

(Photo property of Sony Music Corporation)

#3: “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” with Aretha Franklin (2011)  

In 2011, music history was made when Tony Bennett finally recorded with the Queen of Soul. The two powerful vocalists brilliantly interpreted Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand’s Oscar-nominated track. Ms. Franklin and Mr. Bennett’s duet was a pure vocal master class that today’s artists should listen to if they want to have a lengthy career in the recording industry. 

#2: “New York, New York” with Frank Sinatra (1993)

Both Tony Bennett and the Chairman of the Board are master interpreters of the Great American Songbook. For one of Frank Sinatra’s last studio albums, Duets, the two men recorded one of most recognizable songs associated with the Big Apple. This track perfectly transported the listener to the City That Never Sleeps and would give its listeners chills.

 

(Photo property of Columbia Records)

#1: “New York State of Mind” with Billy Joel (2008)

Nine years ago, Billy Joel had the honor to close down Shea Stadium for an epic two-night concert event. He also asked several of his musician friends to see if they wanted to take part in the event. The Piano Man asked his fellow New Yorker to perform one of the city’s epic anthems at the concert. It was pure bliss to watch the two artists exchange verses, and I loved watching Billy Joel’s saxophone player mouth how excited he was to perform in front of his musical heroes.  I honestly believe that if someone would ever put together a list of the greatest musical performances from New York City concert history, this duet should be at the top!

I do not own any of the clips that feature Tony Bennett and his duet partners. They belong to Mr. Bennett and his respective record labels. Tony’s duet with Haley Reinhart on “American Idol” belongs to FOX, FremantleMedia North America, and CORE Media Group.

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar