Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook Classics

Concord Music Group

If Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra are the icons of the martini-soaked Rat Pack party nights, Tony Bennett is the bloody mary of the morning after. His vocals are calm and soothing yet not as soporific as Perry Como’s, and while he tackles the same material, it’s a totally different experience — you’re not out to impress someone, here you’re looking to build a relationship.

An even dozen tracks populate this collection, each one a gem and worthy of a slow dance or a good-morning kiss. “Blue Moon” opens the show, Rogers and Hart with that extra veneer of class that demands a tux on the singer. If you remember fighting a war with the French Resistance, “As Time Goes By” still pulls a tear, yet stiffens you to the point of doing the right thing, even if it costs you the love of your life. The roster rolls on: “Days of Wine and Roses,” “This Can’t Be Love,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” and two live cuts including Bennett’s signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

But I’m an old Cole Porter fan, and that’s the attraction of the eighth track here — the fabled “Cole Porter Medley.” Bracketed by a cold and distant-feeling “What Is This Thing Called Love,” Bennett feels more like a French torch singer on this track than anywhere else. As it breaks out into an upbeat jazz number, we set sail through “Love for Sale” and “Night and Day” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Ten songs in one medley, and all winners. Add this to your Mad Men Retro collection; it’s essential.

Concord Music Group: concordmusicgroup.com

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