Tony Bennett’s The Beat of my heat, his third album from 1957

25th June 2016

Title: The Beat of My Heart

Label: Speakers Corner

Surely a contender for one of the greatest vocal technicians that has ever appeared in recorded history. For proof, just look at his performances during his old age. When most contemporaries wouldn’t even dare open their mouths and others who were were so hampered by a wavering vibrato that sounded more like the starting of a car on its last legs, Bennett managed and corralled his voice, keeping his magnificent vocal crescendos in a bag and only issuing forth two or three of the during any one performance and, hence, when they appeared sounding like he did when he sang at full pelt during his 30s.

An incredible interpreter of music standing amongst the best (ie Sinatra, Crosby et al), this LP was only his third album and it appeared on Columbia, way back in 1957: a great time for classic jazz vocalists. This title was a concept piece of sorts because Bennett fronted an array of top quality percussionists including the likes of Art Blakey, Jo Jones, Chico Hamilton, Billy Exiner, Candido, and Sabu. Not bad, eh? In fact, the percussion angle was not the only innovation. Often, the arrangement would be stripped to the bare bones, some songs would only include percussion plus a simple wind instrument such as a flute, for example.

On this album, Bennett is on top form. His Love For Sale, backed by the frantic flute accompaniment, tells you everything of the underlying emotion of this track while the Army Air Corps Song even manages to add an intriguing combination of martial beats and swing jazz. And it’s that jazz flavour that really comes through on this LP, proving that the man was more than a ‘mere’ pop singer.

Beautifully mastered by Speakers Corner who have (thank god) removed the ‘bottom of the well’ reverb that often ruined many contemporary LPs.