Carmen McRae (1986), Tony Bennett and Bill Evans (1999)
These two albums have been longtime favorites in my collection, of Carmen McRae's 1986 'Any Old Time', and the second dual collaboration of Tony Bennett and the great Bill Evans simply titled 'Together Again' in 1999. The near flawless timing and phrasing of Carmen McRae at her vocal peak backed up by a very relaxed but unsentimentally intimate quintet captured in this rare Denon digital recording session is what jazz well-sung and played should sound like in the tucked-away lounge of a big city. In contrast, what Tony Bennett does with his resonant interpretation of songs around Bill Evans' subtle but complex chords at the piano have produced one of the most soulful, communicative pieces of lyric and music I have ever heard in any genre you could compare this album to. These two recordings as listened together one after the other gives you the assurance of how life must simply be -- after having lived through much.