Personnel: Gene Krupa (drums); Tony Bennett (vocals); Eddie Wasserman (flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone); John Bunch (piano).
After a successful singing career in the 1950s, Tony Bennett, like many of the jazz-based crooners of his era, had a bit of a commercial falloff with the advent of rock & roll in the early '60s. Bennett, for his part, moved even closer to jazz in his stage shows, and then saw his popularity spike when his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," became a big pop hit in 1962. It was Bennett at his best, working to the pop side of jazz, and it established him as an iconic singer and entertainer, his singing always warm, graceful, and full of an easy and offhand elegance. He picked his material carefully, avoiding novelty and trendy songs, and he built an impressive catalog of classic songs, many of which are firmly established as part of the ever-shifting American Songbook. This set collects four live radio sessions Bennett did with jazz drummer Gene Krupa and his band, which included Eddie Wasserman (flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone) and John Bunch (piano), as part of the National Guard recruitment program in 1962, just prior to the release of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" as a single. An early version of it is included here. ~ Steve Leggett