Elton John & Lady Gaga: New Horizons (2011)
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With over 40 albums to his credit, numerous hit songs, and having co-written a successful Broadway musical, Elton John continues to sell out arenas in his fifth decade as a performer. Lady Gaga doesn't have his extensive résumé, but she has attracted a lot of attention with outrageous stunts and costumes as wild as some of those John donned earlier in his career. After a duo piano/vocal meeting at the Grammy Awards in 2010, the two musicians decided to get together to perform a mostly jazz date, set up in a small European club, much to the surprise of their respective fans.
Together they wow their audience with a swinging, scat-filled "Sweet Georgia Brown" to open their set. The duo's sparkling treatment of "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" is remarkable, making the most of its touching lyrics. Gaga takes the lead vocal in the sixties hit "It Was a Very Good Year," while John channels Ethel Merman in a hilarious up tempo send-up of Ethel Merman in Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business." Gaga throws in a bit of boogie-woogie with her vocal romp through Nellie Lutcher's "Hurry on Down," with John joining her on piano. Taking time for another ballad, John delivers a sparkling interpretation of the old chestnut "Misty," adding plenty of drama with his deliberate approach. John and Gaga take turns sharing the lead vocal in a fun-filled rendition of Dave Frishberg's humorous "Can't Take You Nowhere," with both of them showing deft chops at the keyboard. Perhaps the greatest shock is the instrumental finale, a thunderous, rapid-fire duo piano setting of Bud Powell's "Tempus Fugue-It." While it's doubtful that pop fans will embrace this live CD with the fervor of their individual past efforts, this could be a sign that more rock musicians are looking to expand their horizons.
Track Listing: Sweet Georgia Brown; What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?; It Was a Very Good Year; There's No Business Like Show Business; Hurry on Down; Misty; Can't Take You Nowhere; Tempus Fugue-It.
Personnel: Elton John: piano, vocals; Lady Gaga: piano, vocals.
Record Label: Red Herring
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde