Monday, December 05, 2011

'The Art of Excellence'


The Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli was on PBS last night singing at a concert recorded in Central Park.

It was quite the show. We missed the first part of it, but managed to hear him sing "The Prayer" with Celine Dion and "Amazing Grace" and a few others. I looked up a nice version of "Ave Maria" on YouTube after the show ended.

I perked up when 85-year-old Anthony Dominick Benedetto, better known as Tony Bennett, strolled out on stage to help Bocelli belt out "New York, New York." For some reason, it made me think of Tony's "comeback" album, "The Art of Excellence" (1986), his return to Columbia Records, which kicked off a professional second wind that kept going through "MTV Unplugged" and "Live by Request" to the present day.

I'd never heard of the album until Jonathan Schwartz was playing it one Sunday on his radio show. I used to think my favorite track was "How do you Keep the Music Playing," but another listen drew me to "A Rainy Day" and the "Why Do People Fall in Love/People" medley and "I Got Lost in Her Arms" and "When Love was All we Had."

We started out as children on a carousel...

I sometimes wonder whether singing like this is on the verge of extinction, but I think it will endure. Both younger and established artists continue to draw from the Great American Songbook. Over the weekend, I saw Streisand and Michael Buble and a couple of others on TV singing from it.

Oh, heck. If nothing else, I have my tapes and discs and iTunes and records.

Sing it, Tony...

It really was worthwhile to live when love was all we had...

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