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Concord Readies Tony Bennett's 'As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook'

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Tony Bennett
In the post-WWII era of American popular music, Tony Bennett rapidly emerged as one of the most distinct and popular voices on the landscape, due in large part to a versatile and dynamic style that has enabled him to sing pop standards, jazz, show tunes and just about any other genre that has emerged in the span of his six-decade career. Indeed, any discussion of the Great American Songbook — however it may be defined — will inevitably lead to Tony Bennett.

Concord Records has captured that very significant segment of the discussion in a compilation called As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook Classics. Set for release on February 5, 2013, the set showcases Bennett’s unique interpretations of timeless songs by some of the most legendary of American composers: Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Henry Mancini and many others.

Culled from recordings made during the mid-1970s, the 12-track collection is enhanced with digital remastering by Joe Tarantino and insightful new liner notes written by author and music critic Will Friedwald.

“When you say ‘Great America Songbook’ to almost anyone,” says Friedwald, “they know exactly what you mean: the specific canon of songs, mostly written for Broadway shows between the two world wars, largely composed by Jewish immigrants and African-Americans with names like Gershwin and Ellington. And as the career of Tony Bennett, more than almost any other artist, proves again and again, only the Great American Songbook truly deserves to be called the Great American Songbook . . . Only in the Broadway-based songbook is there anything like a true ‘songbook,’ a common lexicon of classic songs that all the artists in the field will pick from.”

Put this artistically and historically resonant material in the hands of a sensitive and versatile artist like Bennett, Friedwald adds, and the results will be inevitably satisfying.

“It’s to Mr. Bennett’s credit that he can be whisperingly intimate, that he can deliver a message that seemingly comes directly out of his own soul, on a song written by a composer he probably never met, with a full symphony-sized orchestra, and within the confines of a tightly arranged medley,” says Friedwald. “It’s true that the orchestration was written for Mr. Bennett by his longtime musical director Torrie Zito, but even so, it takes a remarkable talent to make it seem like such a direct and personal expression of one’s soul . . . to take a song that may be decades old, something that’s been sung by thousands of other singers, and turn it into a unique and highly personal communication.”

Whatever page in that vast canon you may open to, Tony Bennett’s As Time Goes By has a rich musical story to tell — one that stretches back nearly a century and reintroduces us to the legacy of the Great American Songbook through the voice and the heart of a modern-day legend.

TRACK LIST: Blue Moon; Reflections; As Time Goes By; Maybe September; The Lady Is a Tramp; Days of Wine and Roses; I Wish I Were In Love Again; Cole Porter Medley: What Is This Thing Called Love - Love For Sale - You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To - Easy To Love - It’s All Right With Me - Night and Day - Dream Dancing - I’ve Got You Under My Skin - Get Out of Town - What Is This Thing Called Love (reprise); Some Other Time; This Can’t Be Love; While We’re Young (live); I Left My Heart in San Francisco (live).

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