Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Much of the creative tension in this undeniably successful encounter is supplied by the dense textures of Evans' block-chorded harmonies and single-note counter-melodies - preventing the vocalist from admitting too much sun into the songs that don't invite it. In many respects, this Fantasy date is Evans' "schooling" of Bennett for the one to follow.
Added to the original nine tracks of the first meeting are five out-takes, including a version of "Young And Foolish" that arguably outshines the master version. This time the pair include the song's verse, providing a set-up that encourages the vocalist to hold back just sufficiently to register more fully the song's exquisitely sad sentiments about an irretrievably golden moment.
The decision, on the other hand, to reject the first take of Ray Noble's "The Touch Of Your Lips," despite its lovely opening piano chorus, seems supported by the empathetic balance and less frenzied quality of the master take (though as the target note of the tune's developing melodic phrase, the word "lips" continues to offer perhaps any vocalist, including Bennett, a special phonetic challenge).
Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time" and Cy Coleman's "When In Rome" play especially well to the respective strengths of the duo, the first tune incorporating the minimalist impressionistic beauty of Evans' "Peace Piece" and the second welcoming if not exploiting the spritely gemutlichkeit that is practically a Bennett trademark. That playful, vibrant quality helps prevent Evans' "Waltz For Debby" from becoming overly sentimental in this slowed-down version that amounts to a lingering, somewhat rueful farewell to youth and innocence.
Victor Young's "My Foolish Heart" along with Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful" both receive deliberative, emotional readings, with Bennett coming off best on the latter of the two ballads by once again employing a subdued approach. His is a voice with a tendency toward two extremes: an exploding brilliance in the upper-register, fortissimo passages; hushed "song-speech" in the lower-register, pianissimo passages, or when the lyrics call for a more introspective, meditative mood.
The main challenge for Bennett is often a matter of finding that "middle ground," where the "grain" of the voice and breath support are alone sufficient to communicate the song's lyrical meaning, without any forced or inappropriate drama. With unforgiving songs such as these, each representing popular music elevated to sublime and demanding art - a sort of American lieder - a well-sung note in the wrong place can easily rupture the delicate match between music and meaning." -AllAboutJazz
Down Beat (9/90) - 3 Stars - Good - "..Evans' only stint I've heard him accompanying a singer...Evans is subdued but firmly pulling the beat, soloing briefly and winningly."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The combination of Bennett's majestic croon with Evans' lush, romantic piano accompaniment results in a feast for the ears."
Personnel: Tony Bennett (vocals); Bill Evans (piano).
Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California from June 10-13, 1975. Originally released on Fantasy (9489).
Digitally remastered by Alan Yoshida using XRCD (Extended Resolution Compact Disc) technology (Ocean Way/JVC Mastering).
Personnel: Tony Bennett (vocals); Bill Evans (piano); Tony Bennett; Bill Evans .
Audio Mixer: Stephen Hart .
Audio Remasterer: George Horn.
Liner Note Author: Will Friedwald.
Recording information: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA (06/10/1975-06/13/1975).
Photographers: Phil Bray; Tommy Vano.
In 1975, Tony Bennett was not known for small-scale, cabaret-style sonic settings. Nor was jazz innovator Bill Evans known for working with "pop" singers. As this landmark collaboration (so satisfying it prompted a successor) proved, the pair were eminently compatible. Both possessed an unparalleled sensitivity and an ability to scale dynamic extremes from subtlety to bravura. Bennett sings with unprecedented delicacy and intimacy over Evans's technicolor arrangements. The latter's piano textures are complex, elegant and endlessly shifting as they accompany Bennett's tender ministrations on a program of mostly standards. So definitive is the singer's work here that Bennett neophytes could safely begin their exploration with this album.
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