Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, CHEEK TO CHEEK (deluxe version)

I suppose if you shock long enough, you can eventually shock by not shocking.  Lady Gaga has supplemented her music with bizarre costumes, provocative music videos, and outrageous stage performances.  So it's surprising that for her latest music project, she skipped controversy for classics of big band and jazz -- and teamed up with Tony Bennett to do it!  Cheek to Cheek (deluxe version) is the result, and it's a very satisfying collaboration.

Cheek to Cheek has the duo singing well-known songs from such artists as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter.  The two mostly sing together (though each have two songs they sing by themselves), backed by the Tony Bennett Orchestra.  It's no surprise that Tony Bennett excels at this sort of music: He's been singing it for decades.  But Lady Gaga is a revelation here.  She manages to keep up with Tony Bennett in almost every song, managing longing love songs and up-tempo jazz riffing with equal skill.  She also does well singing by herself on "Lush Life" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered."

I'm normally not a fan of jazz, but Cheek to Cheek was quite enjoyable.  It's as good hearing Tony Bennett in his comfortable genre as hearing Lady Gaga switch out pop for jazz and do it with passion and style.  And the Target deluxe version (disclaimer: I work for Target; even more close to Christmas) has two extra songs for jazz fans.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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