The 'Wonderful World' of Tony Bennett and k.d. lang

Tony Bennett and k.d. lang

Tony Bennett and k.d. lang. Mark Seliger/Sony Music hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Seliger/Sony Music

They are generations apart — he's 76, she's 41. But when Tony Bennett and k.d. lang team up, they sound like the perfect couple.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Bob Edwards interviews the duo, who have recorded A Wonderful World, a new CD of songs identified with another great singer, Louis Armstrong.

Bennett said he and lang turned to songs identified with Armstrong because he "was the source of all great popular singing. He inspired Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald and he influenced all the great musicians... he's just magnificent."

Bennett had his first big hit in the late 1940s, more than a decade before lang was born. He's known for his distinctive tenor and relaxed, swinging style. Lang first made a name for herself as a country singer. But she found a different voice in 1992 with the torchy and soulful album Ingenue.

Bennett and lang have known each other since they recorded "Moonglow" together for Bennett's 1994 "MTV Unplugged" television special.

Their new collaboration, A Wonderful World, was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded over three days at the Harms Theater in Englewood, N.J. The album includes the title tune and such standards as "Exactly Like You," "La Vie En Rose," "Dream A Little Dream Of Me," and "If We Never Meet Again."

"I think the appeal between Tony and I is really a kinship and a love of music, a love of the American songbook," lang says. "The special thing about it is... that we're bridging" a generation gap.

Bennett spares no praise for his singing partner, calling her "the best singer since Judy Garland."

"She's a natural in the tradition of Bing Crosby..." Bennett says. "His ears went not only to the melody but the harmony and k.d. has that wonderful gift. The minute she hears a song, she could sing the harmonies and the right notes to blend with the melody."

Lang says her voice seems to flow together effortlessly with Bennett's. "I think there's some sort of innate understanding between Tony and I. In terms of the texture and intonation of our voices, I think there's a natural blend there and, certainly in spirit, there's a definite marriage there."

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