Om Tony Bennett
The resurgence of Tony Bennett to the top of the charts was one of the most gratifying surprises of the 1990s. Bennett was a (very big) cog in the Columbia hit machine of the '50s and '60s and he had to fight Mitch Miller tooth and nail to do the jazz albums and classy material he loved. He toured extensively with Duke Ellington and become the first white star to record with Count Basie. The cream of this era is collected on the exceptional Jazz, a compilation which also features Art Blakey, Stan Getz, and Bennett's main ivory tinkler, Ralph Sharon. A few years after "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," Bennett got knocked down during the acid rock wave of the late '60s but he answered back with his own label, Improv and cut two great albums with Bill Evans. Always a warm and good-humored singer, age and experience took the brassy edge off Bennett's voice and he decided to stick with jazz accompaniment. In the late '80s he recorded with Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie and George Benson, and slowly rebuilt his base. The '90s MTV generation took to Bennett's music and his unruffled cool personality in a very big way. His music is timeless.