In Silver There’s Gold (Music Review: The Silver Lining, Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap)

23BENNETT-master315Once in a while, I hear an album that reinvigorates my love for the Great American Songbook. Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap’s “The Silver Lining: The Songs Of Jerome Kern”  did just that. the album, a celebration of the work of composer Jerome Kern, is everything a jazz vocal album should be. It interprets songs we thought we had heard a million times already, and makes it sound fresh. Bennett, still in marvelous voice after all these years, obviously loves the material and it shows. (Though at times i still do not like the way he gravitates to belting) I have always considered Bennett a pop singer who works in jazz setting but in here, and probably because he is duetting with the great Bill Charlap, he is freer, and gives himself room to work around these songs. (Charlap, in my opinion, plays with a lyrical tenderness that grabs your heart instantly)  See how Bennett riffs in the swinging arrangement of “Dearly Beloved,” and you can sense him having fun, and taking the song seriously at the same time.  And he goes from that to the intimacy of “the Way You Look Tonight,” which, once upon a time, was my wedding song. I mean, can you think of a more romantic song?  Charlap’s keys bring out all the love in the song and Bennett’s interpretation wrings out all the emotion from it without sounding overwrought. (Listen how he whispers “Lovely, never ever change…”)  I cannot think of a throw-away track here, and I am glad that Charlap gets equal billing, since he contributes just as much as Bennett to the success of this album – his piano solo break on “Yesterdays” proves my point. This music is the real deal, folks, and I am glad someone somewhere still does it.

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