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Hometown My Town + 3 Bonus Tracks

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  • One of the best albums that Tony Bennett cut in the '50s, Hometown, My Hometown is a song suite dedicated to the vocalist's beloved New York City. The album was in part influenced by Gordon Jenkins' highly successful Manhattan Tower album which was a big seller throughout the '50s. But unlike it and so many other similar theme albums (such as Sinatra's Come Fly with Me or Mel Torm's Songs of New York), Bennett doesn't sing songs that are specifically about geographical places in Manhattan or even about the city in general. Instead, the tunes are ones that Bennett feels best evoke the city and the unique solitude that one experiences on Manhattan's crowded streets. Noted jazz arranger Ralph Burns is the perfect choice to flesh out and connect the numbers. He also gamely pens extended musical passages that evoke Manhattan even when the lyrics do not. Judged only on his sweeping, highly jazz-inflected arrangements here it's not surprising that Burns would go on to win both Tonys and Oscars for his work in theater and film. Thematically, the album tells a story of a lonely urbanite who finds fleeting happiness with a girl and then loses her. It's as simple as that. But while the lyrics to the final track -- the standard "The Party's Over" -- may be construed as negative, Bennett puts a positive spin on the song, giving the sense that in a town like Manhattan the next chapter of the story is just around the corner. One of the heavily jazz accented albums that Bennett was able to cut between all of his orchestral ballad sessions, Hometown, My Hometown is shorter than most albums of the '50s. Perhaps this is why this excellent work has been out of print for so long. ~ Nick Dedina
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