Bennett, Lang A 'Wonderful' Team

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Tony Bennett has been enamored of k.d. lang at least since tapping her to join him on his 1994 Grammy Award-winning "MTV Unplugged" live set. He also took her on tour with him last summer after she recorded "Keep the Faith, Baby" for his 2001 "Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues" album.

The chemistry the two share is in full bloom once again on "A Wonderful World," an RPM/Columbia set inspired by songs associated with Bennett's friend Louis Armstrong -- and, as Bennett notes, "the love of good melody and music.

"He was a big influence on me, Sinatra, and Billie Holiday," Bennett adds. "He invented swing, which everybody in the whole world loved. No matter what you come up with -- bebop, rap, grunge -- he's the source, the original guy who tried everything imaginable and did it all."

The album also showcases "two people who love what they're doing," says Bennett, who was "properly involved" with lang on the song selections-including, of course, the George David Weiss/Robert Thiele-penned Armstrong standard "What a Wonderful World."

"One timely song is 'If We Never Meet Again,' which I think is up there with 'As Time Goes By' -- but written a little better," Bennett says of the Armstrong-Horace Gerlach collaboration.

The artist is even more approving of his singing partner for this set, which was released Nov. 5. "She sings as well as Judy Garland," Bennett says of lang. "There's such a sweetness about her: She's so sincere and efficient as far as singing everything the right way. I can't get over what a quick study she is."

Then again, singing with Bennett is getting to be old hat for lang. "Ever since our first duet [on the 'Unplugged' track 'Moonglow'], it's been magical," she says. "But when we went on tour last year, it started to click, and we've been trying to figure out what's so special about our relationship. Tony matter-of-factly says it's just a matter of singing, but I'm more apt to overthink things and find it such an intriguing complexity of combinations-a legend passing the torch, father-daughter, friends, it goes on and on. Lots of people think it's an odd combination because I'm gay and he's older, but I think it's just a beautiful kinship. Music is the foundation of it, but it's beyond that."

Bennett and lang are currently pondering a "special event" tour for January and February 2003. A Bennett concert taped this fall in San Francisco-featuring lang as a special guest-recently premiered on PBS. The show will be issued on DVD and VHS Tuesday (Dec. 10).




Excerpted from the Dec.14, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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