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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Standards > Pop > Jazz > Blues > Tony Bennett – An American Classic (Blu-ray Concert/Sony-Columbia) + The Music Never Ends (DVD Set/Warner Bros.)

Tony Bennett – An American Classic (Blu-ray Concert/Sony-Columbia) + The Music Never Ends (DVD Set/Warner Bros.)


Picture: B+/C+     Sound: B+/C+     Extras: B-/B     Documentary: B     Concerts: B



Continuing his non-stop twilight years peak as one of the most important male vocalists of all time, Tony Bennett may be in his 80s, but the voice is still there and a class act like no other continues to be the toast of any town he goes to.  At this stage of his career, everyone wants to work with him and two recent releases put him in the hands of two great filmmakers delivering different but poignant results.


Rob Marshall of Chicago and Memoirs Of A Geisha captures his big duets project in Tony Bennett – An American Classic (2006, dubbed a Limited Edition on a sticker from our packaging) brings the crooner together with some of the biggest names in music, inserting items about Bennett’s past while bringing on each music number.  The songs here include:


1)     Smile w/Barbra Streisand

2)     Sing, You Sinner w/John Legend

3)     Because Of You w/k.d. Lang & Chris Botti

4)     The Best Is Yet To Come w/Diana Krall

5)     The Shadow Of Your Smile w/Juanes

6)     Rags To Riches w/Elton John

7)     Just In Time w/Michael Bublé

8)     For Once In My Life w/Stevie Wonder

9)     Steppin’ Out w/Christina Aguilera

10)  I Left My Heart In San Francisco



Like all previous duet projects like this, this one is interesting, but not very inspired and I could have thought of a good number of better songs Bennett could have joined Elton John and Stevie Wonder on that would have offered more impact than what we get here.  The big surprise is that Streisand participated at all, but the result is one of the best tracks here.  It is a good program, but it misses the mark at times despite narration moments supplied by no less than Billy Crystal, Robert DeNiro, John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Clint Eastwood delves into his amazing life and past, starting with his childhood and taking the long road with Tony Bennett –The Music Never Ends (2007) running two hours, offering music performances from all the phases of his career and Bennett is along for the ride being interviewed on camera by Eastwood throughout.  This approach is more personable and shows us a laid back side of Bennett we rarely see, but leave it to Eastwood to bring that about.


The result is a program that is very archival, interesting and entertaining.  Eastwood loves Jazz music and though he does not always get the credit for being a Jazz vocalist, Bennett can more than hold his own in that genre as well.  If I wanted to tell someone how to find out about Bennett, I would tell them to see this first.


The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is very good, clean and Marshall knows how to use light and color to good effect.  There are some detail limits and noise in darker areas (noticeable in the black and white footage), but this is the sharpest and crispest footage of Bennett on home video to date.  Sony has settled for a 1080i transfer despite filmed footage not unlike Image with their HD-DVD of Roy Orbison – Black & White Night, but also gets away with it.  Despite being a newer production, the Eastwood program in DVD has detail and depth issues in its 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced presentation with more motion blur than expected, bringing it down to the limited level of the 1.33 X 1 bonus DVD with Bennett’s performance at the 2005 Monterey Jazz Festival.  Tracks include:


1)     Watch What Happens

2)     The Best Is Yet To Come

3)     Sing You Sinners

4)     I Got Rhythm

5)     The Good Life

6)     I Left My Heart In San Francisco

7)     Stepping Out With My Baby

8)     Who Cares?

9)     They Can’t Take That Away From Me

10)  Old Devil Moon

11)  In A Mellow Tone

12)  It Don’t Mean A Thing

13)  Fly Me To The Moon

14)  How Do You Keep The Music Playing?



Like the Eastwood documentary, the concert is sadly presented in plain Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which is a shame because by 2005, all concerts should be thinking 5.1 mix in advance.  Fortunately, the Blu-ray has Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM 2.0 Stereo and an especially good PCM 5.1 mix that delivers Bennett’s voice like no previous release of his long career.  You can hear the warmth, the phrasing and just how high a level he is working at as a vocalist in ways it is easy to take for granted, especially in lower-def audio like regular CDs.


The other extra besides the Monterey show on the DVD set is Eastwood and Bennett sitting around at the piano and talking.  While the Marshall program was on DVD as a bare, basic release, this Blu-ray adds dance rehearsals for the show, a trailer and four featurettes: The Making Of, Shooting Black & White Film, Walking The Stars Through Their Paces and Production Design From Page To Stage.


That is more than enough Bennett to satisfy anyone and are top notch releases worth a look.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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