Tony Bennett charms in PBS Great Performances

Tony Bennett has been around a while and despite some controversial comments he made recently he’s really the heartbeat of American romance and it shows on the PBS program “Great Performances: Tony Bennett: Duets II.”

Really, isn’t it sort of amazing that at his age (85) Bennett can not only cause controversy on the Howard Stern show, but then get Bill Maher and Michael Moore to defend him? Who would have thought that Bennett would be the liberal and Stern the conservative?

Stern has a real limited view of history. That’s similar to how many people view Pearl Harbor.

Bennett did fight in World War II. There’s no doubt about his courage and his grace. According to Wikipedia, Bennett face prejudice when he was drafted. He fought in France and German joining the front lines in 1945. His troop helped liberate a concentration camp.  Most touching is that he was reportedly demoted for dining with a black friend from high school. The army at the time was segregated just like most of the U.S.

Bennett is a survivor. He survived war. He survived disco and rock and roll. And in “Great Performances: Tony Bennett Duets II” he gives us various singers–before, during and after the recording sessions for the 2011 chart-topping album.

Sit back and enjoy the lush romantic sounds and some inside-the-recording views. Roll up the rug and slow dance with your main squeeze.

This is an album all about melody and lyrics and personal chemistry. Of course, the program includes Lady Gaga looking elegant with blue hair. Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have a respectfully playful working relationship here. There’s also some bittersweet tragedy: This is likely Amy Winehouse’s last recording session before her death.

There’s an art to collaboration with singers from different genres and having different raw talent. If Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) singing with Finn Hudson (Cory Montieth) on “Glee” hasn’t taught you that, then this program will help educate you.

This is not a sing-off where two singers face off and attempt to out-do the other. This is all about producing one beautiful product. Blending and responding. Josh Groban addresses this a bit and fans of any of the guests that Bennett brings in will instantly understand.

“Great Performances: Tony Bennett: Duets II” premieres on Friday, 27 January 9 p.m. on PBS. Check local listings.

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