MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, "MOONGLOW"
Welcome to Afterglow, I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
This week on the show, we’re paying tribute to the great Tony Bennett, who passed away at age 96 on July 21st. Bennett was without doubt one of the finest interpreters of the Great American Songbook, and he also had one of the longest careers in the business. In the next hour, I’ll salute Mr. Bennett by highlighting two of his finest recording sessions: the pair of sessions he made in 1975 and 1976 with famed pianist Bill Evans. We’ll also hear from a few other duo sessions Bennett had with other pianists, including his longtime accompanist Ralph Sharon.
It’s Tony Bennett and Bill Evans, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "MY FOOLISH HEART"
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans with Victor Young and Ned Washington’s “My Foolish Heart.” That’s from The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans album from 1975.
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS, "SOME OTHER TIME"
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this week’s show, I’ll be highlighting the two recording sessions that pianist Bill Evans made with singer Tony Bennett in the mid 1970s [as we continue our remembrance of Bennett, who passed away on July 21st at age 96]
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans first met in 1962, at the White House of all places, when both were on the bill for a performance. Although, Bennett ended up performing there with a different pianist, Dave Brubeck. Over the years, Bennett and Evans always admired each other’s work, and they even gravitated towards similar songs from the American songbook. But it was singer Annie Ross, a friend of both performers, who made the suggestion sometime in the early 1970s that the two actually record an album together.
We’ll feature some of those recordings they made together in just a bit. But first let’s hear one track from that Bennett/Brubeck performance at the White House, a recording that wasn’t unearthed until about 50 years later.
First this is Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck, live in 1962, with “There Will Never Be Another You,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND THE DAVE BRUBECK TRIO, "THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "JUST IN TIME"
Tony Bennett, live at the White House in 1962. Just now, we heard him with his own personal pianist Ralph Sharon, performing Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s “Just In Time.” Before that, we heard him with another pianist on the bill that evening, Dave Brubeck, performing Harry Warren and Mack Gordon’s “There Will Never Be Another You.”
Tony Bennett and Ralph Sharon began working together in 1957, kicking off a musical partnership that lasted for more than half a century. Sharon is the pianist you hear on many of Bennett’s records over the course of his entire career. He also accompanied him live for decades. Bennett and Sharon recorded only one album together as a true duo, and that was the 1961 studio album Tony Sings For Two. In many ways, this intimate record was a precursor to Bennett’s duo albums with Bill Evans more than a decade later.
Let’s hear a few tracks from that duet album now. First this is Tony Bennett and Ralph Sharon with the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "MY FUNNY VALENTINE"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS"
Tony Bennett and pianist Ralph Sharon in 1961 with several songs. In order, we heard “My Funny Valentine,” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” all songs by the great songwriting duo Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. That comes from their LP titled Tony Sings For Two.
Tony Sings For Two, an album featuring Tony Bennett with solo piano accompaniment, was more or less the blueprint for the celebrated set of LPs Bennett made with the jazz pianist Bill Evans, the two albums I’m highlighting this hour. These two albums, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album from 1975 and Together Again from 1977, are considered jewels of both musicians' catalogs. Despite Bennett’s outgoing personality and Evans’s introversion, their pairing was a natural one. They both had such defined sounds full of rich musicality, and they each were committed to performing quality songs.
One particular song that each performer seemed to love was the Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green song “Some Other Time.” Bennett had recorded several tunes with lyrics by Comden and Green before, including the song “Just In Time,” which I featured earlier this hour. Evans recorded “Some Other Time” several times before, the first time in 1958 on his album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Evans had gotten in the habit of including a little musical motto in his performance of this song, incorporating a snippet of his original song “Peace Piece” into the opening of it.
When he revived this same tune in 1975 for his album with Tony Bennett, he included the same “Peace Piece” two-chord progression in the opening again. Let’s hear that song now.
This is Tony Bennett and Bill Evans with “Some Other Time,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "SOME OTHER TIME"
Just a lovely duet between pianist Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. That was “Some Other Time,” from their 1975 collaboration.
Many of the songs chosen by Tony Bennett and Bill Evans for their first collaboration were more contemporary songs. Rather than reaching back to songs from the 1930s and 40s by folks like Cole Porter or Rodgers and Hart, they chose several songs that were written only a decade or so earlier, but songs that were quickly becoming standards. Let’s hear two more tracks from this first collaboration now.
This is Tony Bennett and Bill Evans in 1975 with the 1962 Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer song “The Days Of Wine and Roses,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "THE DAY OF WINE AND ROSES"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "WHEN IN ROME"
The 1964 Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh tune “When in Rome,” performed by pianist Bill Evans alongside Tony Bennett with his typical wit. Before that, we heard the duo with the 1962 song “The Days of Wine and Roses,” by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. Both selections come from their first collaboration, the 1975 Tony Bennett and Bill Evans Album.
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS, "LOVE IS HERE TO STAY"
We’ll hear from the second recording session between Evans and Bennett after a quick break. Stay with us.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS, "PEACE PIECE"
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS, "LITTLE LULU"
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been featuring the collaboration between pianist Bill Evans and Tony Bennett this time around on the program. Bennett passed away at age 96 on July 21st. I
After recording their first album together, Tony Bennett and Bill Evans toured together for a while in 1976, performing at the Newport Jazz Festival with a few television appearances too. In September of that year, they entered the studio again, recording the album Together Again, this time released on Bennett’s own Improv label. We’ve already heard the duo performing the Betty Comden and Adolph Green song “Some Other Time,” and let’s hear them perform two more songs with lyrics by Comden and Green.
First in this set, this is Tony Bennett and Bill Evans with “Make Someone Happy,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "LUCKY TO BE ME"
Two songs with lyrics by the duo Betty Comden and Adolph Green, performed by the duo Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. That was “Lucky to Be Me,” music by Leonard Bernstein, before that “Make Someone Happy,” music by Jule Styne. That comes from their second album together from 1977 titled Together Again.
There were actually a few tracks left on the cutting room floor from that album Together Again. One of those was the song “Who Can I Turn To” a song from the musical Roar of the Greasepaint (Smell of the Crowd). Bennett had recorded the song back in 1964, and released it on an album that, coincidentally, also featured a version of Bill Evans’ original tune “Waltz For Debby” (Bennett was one of the first singers to record that Evans song, in fact). “Who Can I Turn To” became a tremendous hit for Bennett in 1964, earning him a Grammy nomination. Two years later, Bill Evans made “Who Can I Turn To” part of his live shows and recorded it with his trio in Town Hall. And then a decade later, the two would finally convene to record this song together on the session for Together Again, their second album together. Unfortunately, the track, despite being a marvelous rendition from the two, was never released on the album. Luckily, it was included on the CD reissue.
Let’s hear it now. This is Tony Bennett and Bill Evans in 1976 with “Who Can I Turn To,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL EVANS, "WHO CAN I TURN TO?"
An originally unreleased version of one of Tony Bennett’s most famous numbers. That was Tony Bennett performing “Who Can I Turn To?” as a duet with pianist Bill Evans.
After recording this album, Tony Bennett faced many personal hardships. His music wasn’t selling well and Bennett’s label Improv soon went out of business. Both Bennett and Evans struggled with drug use as well: Bennett nearly died from a cocaine overdose in 1979, and Evans’s ongoing drug use led indirectly to his death in 1980. For most of the 1980s, Bennett stayed out of the spotlight, rebuilding his career. And one of the things he did, artistically, was to not change his style to fit the times. Rather he maintained his traditional style of performing standards, in hopes of introducing it to newer, younger audiences.
This meant that he returned to the style of the Bill Evans albums, recording standards with piano accompaniment, several times over the course of the next 30 years. However, as his pianist, he was working yet again with steadfast accompanist Ralph Sharon. Let’s hear a few tracks he recorded with just voice and piano, featuring Ralph Sharon on piano.
First, this in this set, a track from an album from 1992 titled Perfectly Frank, a tribute to Frank Sinatra. This is Tony Bennett and Ralph Sharon with “I Wished On The Moon,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "I WISHED ON THE MOON"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "MY IDEAL"
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT, "WHAT A LITTLE MOONLIGHT CAN DO"
Three songs featuring Tony Bennett and pianist Ralph Sharon. Just now, we heard the song “What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” from his 1997 tribute album to Billie Holiday. Before that, “My Ideal” from his 1995 tribute to singer Margaret Whiting off the album Here’s To The Ladies. And before that, “I Wished On The Moon,” from his 1992 tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Tony Bennett released his final solo studio album in 2015, called The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. Yet again, he returned to the style of the earlier Bill Evans albums, featuring sparse piano accompaniment. This time, however, the featured pianist was Bill Charlap. Many of the tracks featured bass and drums, some even featured four hands piano with Charlap’s wife Renee Rosnes also accompanying. But a few feature just Tony and Bill, and let’s hear one of those tracks now.
To close of this hour, here is Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap in 2015 with Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields “The Way You Look Tonight,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - TONY BENNETT AND BILL CHARLAP, "LONG AGO (AND FAR AWAY)"
Tony Bennett and pianist Bill Charlap with “The Way You Look Tonight.” That’s from their 2015 Grammy Award winning album The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern.
MUSIC CLIP - BILL EVANS, "MY FOOLISH HEART"
Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Afterglow.
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University, and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, inviting you to tune in next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook on Afterglow