Monty Alexander plays the songs of Tony Bennett – The Good Life – Chesky

by | Jun 11, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Monty Alexander plays the songs of Tony Bennett – The Good Life – Chesky Multichannel SACD 340, 58:06 ****:

(Monty Alexander, piano; Lorin Cohen, bass; George Fludas, drums)

Jamaica-born Monty Alexander has turned out some fine disc on the Telarc label, and this one with Chesky retains his reputation for an infectious, bouncy, very rhythmic style of improvisation with his trio.  He brings in more different influences in this music than heard with many other jazz pianists – gospel, blues, music of the Caribbean (including reggae), boogie-woogie, and the focus of this album – songs popularized by the great Tony Bennett. Monty loves singers, and one of his mother’s favorite songs was Bennett’s Because of You, which closes out the dozen tracks. So he decided to slant this first of his two new Chesky dates to his own versions of some of the tunes of this powerful and passionate singer.

Several of the tunes come from musicals.  I always have thought Just in Time – from the collaboration of Jule Styne with Comden & Green, was a gem and evidently so does Monty. His treatment had me hearing Judy Holiday delivering it in one of my fav musicals, Bells Are Ringing. There is also the movie tie-in; Maybe September comes from the Tony Bennett film The Oscar, and everybody and his brother in jazz seems to be doing Charlie Chaplin’s Smile lately – what a gorgeous tune! Monty makes a seven-minute mini-rhapsody of it.

The surround sonics are tops, as always with Chesky.  The venue was St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in NYC, not a dead-sounding studio. Nearly all their sessions now employ a specially-modified version of the Ambisonic Soundfield Mark 5 single-point mike system which is converted to 5.0 DSD for mastering to SACD.  Both the drums and piano sound natural-sized and with natural timbres – not exaggerated as heard on so many recordings with too many multiple mikes.  That’s one of the major attributes of Chesky’s approach, to my ears.

TrackList:

1. That Old Devil Moon
2. Good Life
3. Smile
4. Maybe September
5. Way You Look Tonight
6. Just a Little Street
7. Just in Time
8. Emily
9. Put on a Happy Face
10. I Wanna Be Around
11. Once Upon a Time
12. Because of You

 – John Henry
 

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