Review: Tony Bennett, ‘Duets II’

Review: Tony Bennett, ‘Duets II’: Aidin Vaziri | He might be the last of his kind, but at 85 years old, Tony Bennett is just hitting his stride. When he agreed to share his microphone with some of the biggest names in pop music five years ago on the first installment of “Duets,” he scored his best-selling album and three Grammys. The veteran crooner returns to the concept here with an updated guest list that includes everyone from Lady Gaga and Carrie Underwood to Willie Nelson and Natalie Cole. The main attraction is Amy Winehouse, who goes out on an elegant note cozying up to Bennett on the twinkling “Body and Soul.” Really, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t sound better in his company. John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Faith Hill immediately smarten up, even if it means they sound virtually unrecognizable; and Michael Bublé and Josh Groban are well suited to the schmaltzy arrangements that abound. Nelson sounds unusually subdued on a buttoned-down performance of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” as does Aretha Franklin on the lumbering “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.” But it’s Gaga who is seriously disappointing, growling at Bennett through “The Lady Is a Tramp,” making the song seem like a Madonna throwaway from the “Dick Tracy” soundtrack.

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