Isn’t It Romantic? is similar to the 2011 Bennett compilation The Best of the Improv Recordings. In fact, a half dozen of the tunes are lazily repeated from that set. This compilation draws from four mid-‘70s albums, Together Again, Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook, Life is Beautiful, and The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album. Concord’s superb The Complete Improv Recordings contains complete versions of three of those four albums. The remaining one, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album, was reissued by Concord on its own, as well as part of The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings. In other words, there are several more comprehensive options for obtaining this material.
As it is, Isn’t It Romantic? is a well-chosen collection of songs, assuming you don’t already own one of the aforementioned releases. The Bill Evans collaborations are sublimely intimate, with just Evans’ piano accompanying Bennett’s vocals. Wayne Wright’s guitar graces the Rodgers & Hart Songbook material, delicately enhancing “Lover” and “My Romance.” Only two songs are included from the more elaborately orchestrated Life Is Beautiful: that album’s title tune (which closes Isn’t It Romantic?) and “As Time Goes By.”
Concord continues to do right by these legendary vocalists, with a nice roster of Sinatra and Bennett reissues to their credit. Let’s hope for more complete album reissues like The Concert Sinatra and less recycled compilations like Isn’t It Romantic? for the future.