Exactly 40 years ago, popular music's top song stylist, Tony Bennett, joined together with the legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans for two albums of sublime duets. Venerated as gorgeous gems of jazz grace, the two LPs, along with numerous alternate takes and bonus tracks, are combined on this 4-LP, 180-g vinyl boxed set, The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings. Included is a collectible lithograph, as well as a deluxe, 12-page booklet featuring rare photos and extensive liner notes by Will Friedwald (co-author of Tony Bennett's autobiography, The Good Life).
It all began with 1975's The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album, which spotlights two legends at work in equal partnership, tackling classics from the Great American Songbook ('The Days of Wine and Roses,' 'Young and Foolish', 'The Touch of Your Lips'), as well as a moving rendition of the pianist's classic tune 'Waltz for Debby' (with lyrics written by Gene Lees). A consistently enthusiastic and balanced musical partnership, Bennett and Evans shine both individually and in tandem. Bennett and Evans selected the tunes, worked out the arrangements semi-spontaneously, and picked the final takes to be used. Bennett recalls that the pair didn't even discuss song choices before the session: 'I would name a tune, and Bill would say, 'That's good, let's do that.' We'd find a key and then the two of us would work it out.'
Following the recording, the pair performed live on a number of occasions, including the Newport Jazz Festival (in New York) and on television appearances around the world.
In 1976, Bennett and Evans returned to the studio for Together Again. It's another low-lights, high-improv date of standards that opens with an Evans solo rendition of 'The Bad and the Beautiful' and continues with such moving renditions of 'Lucky to Be Me,' 'You're Nearer,' and 'You Don't Know What Love Is.' Another Evans' original, 'The Two Lonely People' (with lyrics by Carol Hall), also graces the playlist.
Both sessions recorded together, not in isolation booths yielded several fine alternate takes that are included, as well as bonus tracks from the second date, with a superb version of Cole Porter's 'Dream Dancing.' Marking a unique partnership in jazz history, The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings is an essential addition to the music collection of any fan of either musical legend.