Jazz veteran Tony Bennett and modern pop megastar Lady Gaga, two names you never would have thought could be used in the same sentence, let alone on the same album cover. Alas, the two stars have released a collaborative cover album of jazz standards called Cheek To Cheek; the two have worked together before, on Bennett’s 2011 release Duets II GaGa was one of his many guest vocalists for the track Lady Is A Tramp, the chemistry between the two was phenomenal and it only made sense to create some more magic. Representing multiple generations of music lovers, Bennett and GaGa’s aim was to encourage the younger generation to appreciate the universal appeal of jazz music, particularly the arrangements listed on Cheek To Cheek.
To kick things off, the pair join the bandwagon of covering the 1934 Cole Porter classic Anything Goes, and nailed it; GaGa’s voice is perfect for jazz, she manages to stamp out her renowned powerhouse vocals for a smooth quality that soothes you, and for an 88 year old Tony Bennet’s still got it! There’s an uplifting energy that shines throughout the album’s title track Cheek To Cheek, Tony then goes it alone and doesn’t delve too far back in time with his luscious rendition of Madeleine Peyroux’s 2004 single Don’t Wait Too Long; the pair reunite with second single I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, their punchy rendition is added to the list of many other covers of the 1928 classic. Nature Boy is probably one of the weakest numbers on the album, it just doesn’t leave a lasting impression, whereas Goody Goody is borderline cheesy and memorable; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye is GaGa’s first solo, it’s a nice raw little track where we really appreciate the first lady of pop’s classical side.
The arrangement of Firefly is just as enthusiastic as the vocal part, in fact it is the driving factor of this rendition and it’s a shame it’s such a short track; the pair join the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee among others in recording a cover of the quirky I Won’t Dance. The short and sweet They All Laughed is fun from beginning to end, leaving you wanting more; GaGa has another chance to shine in Lush Life, the perfect jazz ballad that staples this genre as one of her elements. Tony also has another hack at a solo with Sophisticated Lady, which in turn reminds us what he’s here doing this for, this man has still got the jazz rushing through his veins after all these seasons; Let’s Face The Music and Dance is another fun and upbeat number shared by the pair, followed by yet another wonderful ballad, But Beautiful. The album comes swinging to an end with It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), finishing up on a boppy and addictive number.
Cheek To Cheek brings generations of music listeners closer together, Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa may have sounded like an odd combination at first, but listening to this album in full gives that concept more clarity; they are perfect together, they are from separate musical words but they make it work. Although jazz and show tunes are Bennett’s niche, the world needs to take a second to appreciate GaGa’s vocal work on this one; we already know she is a fantastic singer with an unreal range, but this is nothing like you’ve heard in her career, she can really turn that classical jazz on (she had been singing jazz from a young age). There is some commendable work done by the band on the record as well, they really captured what makes a jazz album zing. Cheek To Cheek is perfect for fans of jazz classics, as well as long time fans of Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa; her little monsters should have some appreciation over what their queen is capable of.