“Maybe September” finds Bennett teaming with the late Bill Evans on piano for a stunning vocal and piano duet. This was two masters on top of their respective games proving they did not need a full band to make a powerful musical statement as Bennett’s voice soars over Evans’ sublime accompaniment. The Ruby Braff/George Barnes Quartet returns for a jazzed up rendition of “The Lady Is A Tramp." All the players are in fine form, but it’s John Giuffrida’s nimble bass lines that really propel the song from good to great.
The CD’s centerpiece is arguably the near 14-minute “Cole Porter Medley.” It combines nine different songs, beginning and ending with “What Is This Thing Called Love?” Zito’s orchestra does a fine job in making the transitions between the songs seamless, as if Porter intended them to be heard this way. Highlights include a swinging “Love For Sale” and a version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” that alternates between a breezy verse and a big band chorus.
No Bennett compilation would be complete without his signature song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” A live rendition from 1977 is included here and it’s clear Bennett and his crack band are having a blast performing this famous number.
Now 86 years old, Bennett is showing no signs of slowing down. He remains a true gem of American music and one of the greatest interpreters of the Great American Songbook. For fans wanting a taste of the man’s musical prowess, As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook Classics is a fine place to start.