Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck are two of the greatest minds to ever stand and sit in the performance of classic modern Jazz . In 1962, fate brought them together with President Kennedy, for a cobbled-together performance that has now just recently been rediscovered in the aftermath of Dave Brubeck’s death at 91 years and 364 days in December, 2012, and the result is the instant-wonder: Bennett & Brubeck — The White House Sessions, Live — 1962!
Here’s the official backstory on the Bennett/Brubeck Kismet:
A previously unreleased jewel and perfect introduction to both American jazz and the artistry of two geniuses, Bennett & Brubeck – The White House Sessions – Live 1962 presents, for the first time ever, the complete Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck performance from the White House Seminar American Jazz Concert, held on August 28, 1962. With the Washington Monument as the evening’s backdrop — the show was moved from its original Rose Garden location to the larger Sylvan Theater grounds nearby to accommodate the crowd — the concert was an end-of-summer event thrown by the John F. Kennedy White House for college students who’d been working as interns in the nation’s capital.
One of the great lost treasures of American musical history, the Tony Bennett-Dave Brubeck White House Seminar performance came about when the artists — each already on the bill with his own ensemble — agreed to seize the moment with an impromptu set. While the Bennett-Brubeck recording of “That Old Black Magic” had surfaced on the occasional compilation (Brubeck’s 1971’s out-of-print LP, Summit Sessions, and 2001’s Vocal Encounters), the rest of the Bennett and Brubeck performances — an hour’s worth of music — were a mythical lost object in the Sony Music Entertainment vaults until finally surfacing through a fortuitous discovery last December, just weeks after Brubeck’s passing on December 5, 2012 (one day shy of his 92nd birthday).
What is immediately lost in the listening is any sense of tension or place and what is gained in the identical instant is that awesome and ethereal place where time stops and the real world begins.
Bennett and Brubeck make a fantastic musical couple and the energy of a young Tony Bennett and an established, but still hungry, Dave Brubeck, creates an elastic experience that wobbles the sound mind with the human conundrum of hearing something for the first time that has been lost and buried for 51 years and, amazingly, “Suspended in Amber” takes on a whole new significance as — “Lost in the Vault” — and we are made younger and better in this compressive time-travel that brings history into the now to become a new, undiscovered reality of truth and well-being. Tony’s singing is rugged and raw. Dave’s piano is rough and resounding. Together, Bennett and Brubeck become the definition of a new smooth and swinging Jazz from antiquity.