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Interview:
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga get cheeky on TV
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga have taken their unexpected duet act to the top of the charts -- both pop and jazz -- and now to TV.

"Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek LIVE!" premieres at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 24 as part of PBS' Great Performances series. With an orchestra led by Jorge Calandreilli, soloists Chris Botti (trumpet) and David Mann (tenor saxophone), and sets by theatrical groundbreaker Robert Wilson, the special -- filmed during July at New York's Lincoln Center -- features 13 of the Great American Songbook standards the two included on their "Cheek To Cheek" album, with each of them singing two solo pieces in addition to the duets.

"I never met a more talented person in my life than Lady Gaga," says Bennett, who at 88 is 60 years' Gaga's senior and met her when she sang on his "Duets II" album in 2011. She's very, very creative and she's very, very sweet, and she's an immense talent. I've been performing with different people my whole life, and I'm telling you she's the most talented person I've ever met."

He adds that, "She's always tried to tell everybody she really sings good jazz. She knows how to do it, in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald -- and that's saying something 'cause no one was ever better than Ella singing true jazz. And she (Gaga) has that same ear. She knows. She's an accomplished piano player/musician. She studied well in school and she's highly intelligent, but she sings beautifully."

Bennett and Gaga have already started working on another project, their version of Cole Porter's 1936 musical "Red, Hot & Blue," and Bennett is hoping the PBS special will be the precursor to more live shows for the duo.

"We'll be touring together for quite awhile," Bennett predicts. "She's kind of exhausted from playing for 45,000 people a night. She said, 'Let's just play for three to six weeks in Las Vegas.' She has the idea of just performing at Radio City for possibly two weeks with her.

"It's an amazing show she's planning out, how we should perform together, and it won't be those 45,000-seat places because I work in acoustical halls all the time, or outdoor theaters sometimes. I'm not interested in playing to 45,000 people a night, so she's finding places where we could work for three or four days, or three or four weeks, in one place at a time. That's how she wants to work with me."

"Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek LIVE!"

9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24.

PBS (WTVS, Channel 56 in Detroit).

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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