Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues

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Barnes & Noble - William Pearl
The blues is not the first genre that you?d associate with singer Tony Bennett. But this stalwart exemplar of American pop vocalizing has an uncanny ability to adjust to virtually any kind of mainstream material, and he does so with aplomb on this surprisingly winning project. Not only a journey into unexplored territory, Playin' with My Friends is also a duets album, and big names have come out for it -- including B. B. King, Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, k. d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, and Sheryl Crow, all of whom sound like they?re having quite a time singing with the main man. The material isn?t strictly blues per se, although such classics as ?Everyday I Have ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - William Pearl
The blues is not the first genre that you’d associate with singer Tony Bennett. But this stalwart exemplar of American pop vocalizing has an uncanny ability to adjust to virtually any kind of mainstream material, and he does so with aplomb on this surprisingly winning project. Not only a journey into unexplored territory, Playin' with My Friends is also a duets album, and big names have come out for it -- including B. B. King, Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, k. d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Joel, and Sheryl Crow, all of whom sound like they’re having quite a time singing with the main man. The material isn’t strictly blues per se, although such classics as “Everyday I Have the Blues,” and “Well Alright, OK You Win,” and “Let the Good Times Roll” receive rousing treatments. Ballads like “Stormy Weather,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Blues in the Night,” and “New York State of Mind” also allow Bennett to graze in more familiar terrain.
All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Tony Bennett's latter-day albums tend to have themes, and this one has two, as indicated by its double-barreled title: It is both a duets album and a blues album. The duet partners include ten singers who range from his recent touring partners Diana Krall and k.d. lang to fellow veterans Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Kay Starr, and younger, but still mature pop stars Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, and Billy Joel. All sound happy to be sharing a mic with Bennett. Not surprisingly, the singer's conception of the blues does not extend to the Mississippi Delta or the South Side of Chicago; rather, he is interested in the blues as filtered through the sound of the Swing Era, particularly from around Kansas City, and as interpreted by Tin Pan Alley and show tunes. For the former, his true mentor is Count Basie, whose overt influence is heard on six of the 15 tracks. Bennett makes no attempt to hide this, leading off the album with two songs, "Alright, Okay, You Win" a duet with Krall and "Everyday I Have the Blues" a duet with Wonder, closely associated with Basie singer Joe Williams. The Broadway and Hollywood blues style is introduced in three selections written by Harold Arlen. On about half the tracks, the Ralph Sharon Quartet is augmented by Harry Allen's saxophone and Mike Melvoin's Hammond organ, but this remains a small, intimate affair that emphasizes the singers. There are missteps -- Sheryl Crow's Billie Holiday impersonation on "Good Morning, Heartache" is unfortunate, and Natalie Cole, as usual, sounds out of her depth on "Stormy Weather." But the trade-offs Bennett enjoys with King and Charles are priceless, and the Joel duet is surprisingly effective. On the whole, this is yet another entry in Bennett's lengthening series of autumnal recorded triumphs.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/6/2001
  • Label: Sony
  • UPC: 696998583320
  • Catalog Number: 85833

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Alright, Okay, You Win - Diana Krall (3:31)
  2. 2 Everyday (I Have the Blues) - Stevie Wonder (3:38)
  3. 3 Don't Cry Baby (2:43)
  4. 4 Good Morning Heartache - Sheryl Crow (4:56)
  5. 5 Let the Good Times Roll - B.B. King (3:14)
  6. 6 Evenin' (4:14)
  7. 7 I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues (3:55)
  8. 8 Keep the Faith, Baby - k.d. lang (3:51)
  9. 9 Old Count Basie Is Gone (Old Piney Brown Is Gone) (3:24)
  10. 10 Blue and Sentimental (3:20)
  11. 11 New York State of Mind (4:30)
  12. 12 Undecided Blues (3:17)
  13. 13 Blues in the Night (3:33)
  14. 14 Stormy Weather (4:34)
  15. 15 Playin' With My Friends (4:47)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tony Bennett Primary Artist
Kay Starr Track Performer
Ray Charles Track Performer
Natalie Cole Track Performer
Billy Joel Track Performer
Bonnie Raitt Track Performer
Ralph Sharon Piano
Sheryl Crow Track Performer
Harry Allen Saxophone
Clayton Cameron Drums
B.B. King Track Performer
k.d. lang Track Performer
Paul Langosch Bass, Bass Guitar
Mike Melvoin Hammond Organ
Gray Sargent Guitar
Stevie Wonder Track Performer
Diana Krall Track Performer
Technical Credits
Count Basie Composer
Jimmy Rushing Composer
Danny Bennett Executive Producer
Ervin Drake Composer
James Duncan Engineer
Ted Jensen Mastering
Jerry Livingston Composer
Rob Mathes Vocal Arrangements
Joel Moss Engineer
Charles Paakkari Engineer
Phil Ramone Producer
Tom Young Engineer, Monitor Engineer
Arnold Levine Art Direction
Darcy Proper Mastering
Josh Cheuse Art Direction
Steve Genewick Engineer
Dan Fisher Composer
Irene Higginbotham Composer
Fleecie Moore Composer
Mack David Composer
Sam Theard Composer
Claudius Mittendorfer Engineer
Woody Pornpitaksuk Authoring
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    It just gets better with time!

    Tony Bennett is like the best wines that get better and better with time.This album is worth every dollar!!Go and get it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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