Tony Bennett - Astoria: Portrait Of The Artist
Astoria: Portrait Of The Artist by Columbia/Legacy
By Tony Bennett
As is to be expected from an artist of this caliber, the quality of the recordings themselves match the quality of the lyrics, the singing and accompaniment. This is a fine selection for anyone who loves love songs done in an older style.
This album tugged on my heartstring. I still prefer the style of someone like Sinatra, all the while conceding that Bennett is a fine talent in his own right, but the songs on this album grabbed my attention and held it. That is primarily because most of the songs are love songs and an all too familiar feeling swept over me on hearing them. Some are of unrequited love and others of love fulfilled. In any case, they are well done, emotional and a pleasure to hear... even bearing in mind the "unrequited" part.
"Astoria: Portrait of The Artist" is one of my top favorite Tony Bennett albums from his discography. I recently revisited this album and savored its charms once again after not listening to it for over a year now. I should have written a review after the first time I listened to it.
The album was recorded and released in 1990 to coincide with his 40th anniversary in the music industry. And as the title connotes, it is also as much a tribute to the place where he grew up, Astoria, in Queens, New York. According to the singer, "he's been all over the world--to Paris, to Capri, to Florence--but Astoria is the best place to live." Although he's been a long-time resident of Manhattan, he never fails to visit his old neighborhood in Astoria on a regular basis.
Tony Bennett's impressive and ingenious renditions of gems from George and Ira Gershwin ("The Girl I Love"), Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash ("Speak Low"), Gus Kahn and Harry Woods ("A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet") are some of the best interpretations ever recorded. He gave new meanings and fresh twists to these songs without losing their original essence. He made them more listener-friendly and more pleasing to the ears with his own style of delivery.
His ever loyal trio, pianist Ralph Sharon, bassist Paul Langosch and drummer Joe La Barbera who have been backing the living legend for the longest time have done a real great job on the entire recording. The trio's wealth of experience has greatly contributed to the album's worthiness.
Jorge Calandrelli, a fine arranger, conducted the U.K. Orchestra and wrote the innovatively charming chart arrangements as he always does in all his projects. His body of work is consistently impressive and in the tradition of Nelson Riddle, Johnny Mandel, Gordon Jenkins, Patrick Williams, Don Costa, Robert Farnon and Claus Ogerman. He is one of the best arrangers/conductors I've ever come across in my entire listening journey.
The medley of "A Weaver of Dreams" and "There Will Never Be Another You" is such a musical marvel which I believe is the focal point of the album because of its beautiful and one-of-a-kind rendition. It is my favorite track. I'm all praises to Jorge Calandrelli for his brilliantly unique arrangement, which Tony Bennett, his sidemen and the orchestra executed in beauty and perfection.
This album is a rarity and an everlasting gem. You'll enjoy it as much as I have. With my heartfelt recommendation!