Lady Gaga is currently prepping for two different Las Vegas residencies, one focused on her pop hits (Lady Gaga Enigma) and the other on showcasing her vocals through stripped-down versions of her songs and Great American Songbook classics (Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano). It’s in the vein of the latter that we receive a new Gaga song Friday (Nov. 16) courtesy Brian Newman, her longtime friend and trumpeter/bandleader for her Jazz & Piano shows (which kick off Jan. 20).
Newman’s new album Showboat features a bluesy version of Nina Simone’s classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (which the Animals turned into a rock hit in 1965) with vocals from Lady Gaga that emphasize the lonely moodiness of the composition. Listen to her substantial vocal powers on display below.
A pre-fame Gaga first met Newman in Manhattan when he was a bartender and she was a go-go dancer. They bonded over a shared love of jazz and tattoos, and after her career took off they teamed up for her Tony Bennett album Cheek to Cheek, which he played trumpet on and served as bandleader for (the same role he’ll occupy in Vegas).
Newman’s Showboat, named after his classic car, is a tribute to the larger-than-life jazz of the past. “It’s a nod to an era that went big in every sense of the word. Big bands, big cars and big lapels,” he says. “It’s an era where the show and showmanship were at the forefront.”