Stories » On their first album together, Tony and Diana tribute George and Ira / JazzTimes

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On their first album together, Tony and Diana tribute George and Ira / JazzTimes

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This story begins in 1948. A young man just a few years out of Army duty in the European theater of WWII went into Decca's New York recording studio and cut a version of George and Ira Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm." Born with a name seemingly both too long and too ethnic for show business, the young singer had been using the shorter moniker Joe Bari for his professional appearances. According to Dick Golden-jazz radio host, historian, and author, as well as friend of the singer-it was Bob Hope who invited Bari to perform with him at the Paramount. The story goes that Hope asked the young man, "Again, what's your name?" and he replied, "My professional name is Joe Bari but my real name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto." Hope said, "Oh my, that's too long for the marquee … why don't we call you Tony Bennett?"

Seventy years later, the iconic singer may seem to be in the final chapter of that story. However, 92-year-old singers aren't supposed to be able to belt out songs for 90 minutes without a break or a teleprompter or even a stool. With the release of Love Is Here to Stay, an exquisite duet album with Diana Krall, Bennett has further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest singers in American music. Dedicated to the songs of the Gershwins, the album brings Bennett full-circle to that first 1948 Decca session-yes, "Fascinating Rhythm" is on the track list-backed by one of the great jazz piano trios of the last two decades, the Bill Charlap Trio with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington. 

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