September 10, 2007


The Pavarotti of Pop (WILL FRIEDWALD, September 10, 2007, NY Sun)

At 81, Tony Bennett — the Pavarotti of Pop — has become an icon of everything that's worth preserving in 20th-century musical culture, living proof that one man can dream the impossible dream, take a stand against the barbarians and philistines, and walk through a storm with his head held high. Yet I have to admit that this is the last thing in the world I am thinking about when I listen to Tony Bennett sing: When he is performing, as he did on Saturday night in the first of two concerts at Radio City Music Hall, it's impossible to keep your mind on anything but the music itself and the message that he's flawlessly communicating.

In 2006, Mr. Bennett was the subject of universal media attention because of his 80th birthday as well as a highly successful retrospective album of duets with contemporary stars. In 2007, he has done even better with a limitededition boxed set of 13 classic albums, a new Christmas DVD, a new documentary to be aired Wednesday on PBS's "American Masters" (produced by Clint Eastwood), a new single-disc collection of standards drawn from his vast catalog called "The Ultimate American Songbook," a new book of his paintings, and, quietly, getting married a month before his 81st birthday.

As he showed on Saturday night, Mr. Bennett has set the bar so impossibly high that his only competition is himself: Every time you leave a Tony Bennett performance, you have to be thinking to yourself that this is the absolutely greatest performance of his you've ever seen, or he hasn't done his job.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 10, 2007 12:15 AM
Comments for this post are closed.