NEW YORK, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Tony Bennett says it was important to actually sing with each guest on his new duets album.
Bennett joins forces with 17 singers on "Duets: An American Classic," including luminaries such as Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Sting, James Taylor, Bono, Elton John and Tim McGraw. But unlike Frank Sinatra and others who have recorded similar projects, Bennett made a point of actually being in the studio with his collaborators.
"Wherever they were at, we came in and did it with them," Bennett says. "We did them all very spontaneously. It was all four or five takes, live. It wasn't made to sound perfect. It's just very casual."
The "Duets" album is part of a yearlong celebration of Bennett's 80th birthday, which has also included Jazz Master designation from the National Endowment For the Arts, a place for one of his paintings in the Smithsonian Institute of Art and the Billboard magazine Century Award in December.
An NBC TV special based on "Duets," directed by Academy Award winner Rob Marshall ("Chicago") is to air in November.