Netflix has been on a roll with their streaming offerings. First with their highly addictive original political series House of Cards and now this. The Zen of Bennett is an up close look at Tony Bennett and the making of his recent Duets ll record. Lovingly produced by his son, we’re treated to watching the master at work who is equally at home in the recording or artist studio, and in the process we learn a little more about what makes him tick.
He’s extremely likable and can relate to just about anyone as proven in his interactions with guests Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Andrea Bocelli, John Mayer and even Lady Gaga. The film’s most bittersweet moment comes in watching him help nurture the crazy talented Amy Winehouse and then learn of her untimely passing just shortly thereafter.
He’s been at this a long time and takes great pride in transcending generations and though admittedly old fashioned, he’s still very much young at heart. If it weren’t for the great stories spanning more than five decades in show business, we’d have a hard time believing he’ll soon be turning 85.
He’s built his life and career on following his heart and living his passions and he credits his longevity to his commitment to quality or as he warns to never scrimp on a suit or a song. They don’t really make ‘em like Tony Bennett anymore which is all the more reason to savor his words of wisdom. Here’s the preview for The Zen of Bennett now streaming on Netflix or available on DVD:
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve caught some of the buzz surrounding the long awaited release from Daft Punk. If you’ve missed the free stream on iTunes, Random Access Memories is officially available and you can also listen on Spotify. The French electronic dance pop duo fondly known as the robots have once again broken the mold. What makes this record most notable is the interesting choice of A-list musician producer types they tapped to transport them back in time to the 60’s and 70’s to help carry out their mission. The arrival of this record has generated a lot of excitement and we’re right in step. They had us at the very first synth and it completely lives up to the hype.
But what’s also newsworthy are these choice nuggets we’ve unearthed on their site: the Collaborator Series video interviews. They play like mini behind the muse documentaries with each collaborator sharing their connection to the men of mystery as well as the little touches of magic that unfolded throughout the creative process. We’ll take any opportunity to explore how music inspires…and this is solid gold.
You’ve got Paul Williams taking us back to the crazy days of Phantom of the Paradise and Nile (Chic Le Freak) Rodgers talking about his work with everyone from Bowie to Madonna and once again landing at Electric Lady Studios. The first single to hit the airwaves that plays throughout is “Get Lucky” from rap mogul Pharrell Williams who also shares his own time travel story. Producer and sampler Todd Edwards was so moved by the whole experience that it caused him to actually move….all the way cross country.
The overriding sentiment throughout is that these guys wanted to deliver something modern so they looked to the past for inspiration (which is very much in keeping with our own sort of like then but so right now theme). Or as Nile Rodgers beautifully points out it in his segment below, they went back to go forward and in doing so brought something to music that has been lacking for awhile. Ironically, it took a couple of androids to create something organic and bring some soul back to music….and people are feeling it. So even if you’re like Daft who? Punk what?, this is as good a time as any to get on board and into the groove. Helmet sold separately.
The latest to emerge from the pack of young and talented beyond their years British soul singers, Laura Mvula is a standout. Her sound is not so easy to label…at least for the mainstream…but her star is definitely on the rise. You may hear traces of Amy Winehouse or her influences Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill but in more of an old school Nina Simone forge her own path kind of way. Her take notice debut album Sing to the Moon was just released and the title track is absolutely luminous. Which is pretty well summed up in the live performance below and if you hurry you can download the track today over at KCRW.
Laura Mvula. Remember that name!
Wowza! Willie Nelson turns 80 today and he’s still going crazy strong. We always knew he was a powerhouse but a black belt too!? That’s just one of his secrets to staying young that he shared in an interview with AARP. But don’t count on him joining the ranks of the retirees any time soon. He’s releasing Let’s Face the Music and Dance, a new record of his favorite classics and it even looks like there may be a movie role in his future. Forever young and always up for some fun, take a look at his audition tape for the upcoming Hobbit (courtesy of Team Coco). Happy Birthday and cheers to Willie Nelson.
We are saddened by the loss of the great Richie Havens but feel so fortunate to have spent this time with him and have this special podcast to share. A genuine artist with a generous spirit that will forever live on in our hearts through his music. Peace, love and gratitude, Richie. You will be missed.
Richie Havens has been telling timeless stories through song for over 40 years. Ever since he captivated the crowd at Woodstock, he‘s been writing, recording and moving audiences throughout the world with his distinctive voice. We recently sat down with the shaman to chat about his unique approach to life and music. Warm, funny and endlessly engaging, Richie Havens is keeping it real in this boomitude original podcast.
Speaking of the Pope…remember when Sinead O’Connor was all the rage before all her rage short circuited an otherwise promising career? She had the 90’s in the palm of her hand until she ripped on the pontiff on SNL and then the decade slipped right through her fingers. Her crowning glory came courtesy of a songwriting Prince in the form of the hit single (and video) “Nothing Compares 2U.”
It’s still a memorable song and it’s now enjoying a nice makeover from Los Angeles pop group Capital Cities. We have KCRW to thank for answering our cover tune prayers…it’s in heavy rotation on their Eclectic 24 and it’s definitely worthy of our cover honors. It’s hardly the drama of its predecessor, but maybe this snappier version is better suited for this millennium.
More boomitude.com cover tune blogs:
Various Artists: I Got Your Cover Right Here
Sting & Christian McBride: A Stingin’ Cover
The Heavy: Covered in Blood
Bon Iver/Justin Vernon: Cover Lover
Buddy Holly: That’ll Be The Cover
Sheryl Crow: Sideways Cover
Theo Bleckmann: This Man’s Work – The Sequel
Pat Metheny: Cherish
Kurt Elling: Steppin’ Out