It’s a strange combination — Tony Bennett, seasoned jazz legend, and Lady Gaga, controversial pop icon known for her outrageous music, costumes and stage shows.
With “Cheek To Cheek,” the latest release from Bennett and Gaga, this combination works with the duo covering several jazz standards.
While Gaga is known for her unpredictable stage character, this album allows her raw vocal talent to shine. There’s no auto-tune and no big production. Just two great vocalists backed by a group of fabulous musicians.
The cover shows the duo on the front page of a newspaper “grabbing the headlines.” Perhaps they knew how big this album would be too.
The album opens with “Anything Goes.” Bennett and Gaga play off of each other very well, doing justice to this classic song.
Although Gaga has been the center of attention in the album’s media coverage, this is just as much a Tony Bennett album as it is a Lady Gaga album, and Gaga respects that fact, careful not to take too much time in the spotlight.
Bennett is no stranger to duet albums, having released several collaborations with k.d. lang, Willie Nelson and Aretha Franklin, among others.
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” stands out as one of the best songs on the album, starting as a fun, upbeat number and ending with beautiful harmonies from Bennett and Gaga.
Bennett and Gaga both get a chance to go solo on this album, starting with Gaga’s take on “Lush Life.” She keeps the arrangement simple with her vocals front-and-center.
By the end of the first verse, one can rightfully think that perhaps this is the type of music Gaga was meant to do. Her voice comes through comfortably and emotionally with just the right amount of power to end the song.
“Sophisticated Lady” is Bennett’s moment in the spotlight. With nothing but a piano as backup, the song puts the listener in a warm, soothing mood, in a way that only Bennett can do.
His voice has aged, developing noticeable vibrato, but his iconic phrasing is still there, and his soul still comes through just as clear and heartfelt as ever.
The album comes to a close with the iconic masterpiece, “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” The recording speaks for itself, with Bennett and Gaga doing justice to a sacred standard and leaving the listener wanting more.
What many originally thought would be a novelty album with Tony Bennett singing “Poker Face” backed by synthesizers and other computerized instruments turned out to be one of the best albums of the year, keeping traditional jazz music alive and staying true to the art form of singing.
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s “Cheek To Cheek” is available now in stores and online. For more information, visit www.cheek2cheek.com