Sunday, October 20, 2013


Tony's still dropping good work when he appears (I recommend the Zen Of Bennett DVD, an excellent doc about the making of his Duets project), and every few months  we seem to get a cool archive release as well.  This comes from the glory days of the Strip, back when the Rat Pack resided there, the top adult performers and TV and movie stars and sports idols all were there to be seen and keep the place glitzy.  Bennett hadn't been a regular there though, and 1964 was his first engagement, luckily captured then, the tapes untouched for decades.

Tony, joined of course by Ralph Sharon Trio, is backed by the house orchestra, in a slick, swinging set.  He's at the height of his powers, but we're not talking about someone who had to rise far, or who faded much over the years.  It's just that he's pretty darn close to the peak.  (I Left My Heart In) San Francisco had won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1963, followed up by I Wanna Be Around, and The Good Life, cementing him as an equal to the greats, even Sinatra acknowledging him as his favourite.  So here's the time to hear him in the hottest town.

This being Vegas, maybe it is a little too slick.  The songs keep coming and coming, often a little too short and quick, not leaving him, or the group to stretch out.  The great phrasing is there of course, but much of the power doesn't really get put on display until the end, when Bennett does take his time.   These are of course, the big numbers:  Chicago, San Francisco, I Wanna Be Around.  But that's Vegas, get 'em in, give them a good time, a decent prime rib, a few drinks and back at the tables.  Some of the show biz is pretty interesting though.  In the middle of the set, out come guest Milton Berle, Danny Thomas and Mickey Rooney, with a few jokes and lots of praise for Tony, how cool it all seemed.  As good a performance as this is, it's just as fun to have this hunk of history preserved.

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