Tony Bennett stands for hip in a pure pop context, of course -- and always will. But early in his career, he also indulged a serious appetite for swing. By teaming up with jazz heavyweights like drummer Art Blakey (see “Let’s Begin”) or big band eminence Count Basie (check “With Plenty of Money and You”), the young star challenged himself with some more aggressive, complex rhythmic backing than was typical for a pop crooner.
Sometimes Bennett’s record label didn’t even understand the value of these ambitions. Witness the fact that his one-off live collaboration with pianist Dave Brubeck, at a concert for White House interns in 1962, never saw the light of day (in full) until this month. The uptempo take on “There Will Never Be Another You” is a highlight, but go ahead and savor the whole four-song mini set over in the appended playlist. And then circle back to experience this clutch of early albums in full.