Album Review: Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 (Various Artists)
With a career spanning about 67 years, and more success finding its way to him even as he reaches 90, there’s no denying that Tony Bennett is a true image of success. As such, a televised special celebrating his birthday milestone makes perfect sense. Artists of all varieties, collaborators and otherwise, all came together to perform in what eventually became the TV special Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come, and the companion CD Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 gives fans the chance to experience it for themselves all over again.
Even from looking at the list of collaborators, you can tell there’s a lot of top talent involved in this celebration, and their performances are as impeccable as you could expect. Whether it’s Lady Gaga opening the album with her solo rendition of The Lady Is a Tramp—and eventually, La Vie en Rose as well, both recently popularised by the duo on their collaborative album Cheek to Cheek—k.d. lang and Michael Bublé performing show stopping renditions of jazz standards or Stevie Wonder and Elton John performing their own iconic tracks, there’s a lot of quality to be found in each track. None of the performances on show fall flat, and they serve as a fitting precursor to Bennett’s own performances, which close the album perfectly.
There’s a lot to enjoy here for Bennett fans and even fans of jazz in general, and while the visual component of the performance is lost as a part of the album, the sounds of the audience and the live quality of the music sets up the atmosphere of the album perfectly. And as it closes on Stevie Wonder’s track Happy Birthday it all starts to blend perfectly, ending on a high note and paying perfect homage to Bennett and his latest milestone as Lady Gaga closes the show and the track with a round of applause for the star of the night.
This is quite obviously aimed at Bennett’s die-hard fans, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of quality performances for any listeners to enjoy. It’s a star studded cast with a great selection of standards and popular tracks chosen to cover or perform, and the sheer atmosphere of the record is undeniable. It might not hold much longevity beyond the year for most listeners, but if you were particularly fond of the televised special or of the songs and artists featured, Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 is a collection you shouldn’t miss.