Tony Bennett has carved a unique niche in American pop and jazz history with his vocal prowess, and CLOUD 7 is a unique entry in Bennett's massive catalog. While most pop (and many jazz) albums of the 1950s customarily boasted large studio orchestras, 1955's CLOUD 7 was recorded with guitarist Chuck Wayne (who's given "featured" billing) and a small group of fellow jazz musicians, whose artfully minimalist accompaniment presaged Bennett's 1994 MTV UNPLUGGED live album.
Bennett's voice hadn't yet developed that slight rascally rasp we all know and love, but it was preceded by a youthful enthusiasm tempered by tenderness, along with a bit of Saturday night jazz-club swagger. The mellow yet swinging band perfectly complements the singer (and songs) with solos both heartfelt and concise (there's not one excess note to be heard). Bennett presents a Great American Songbook set performed with such intimacy that CLOUD 7 feels like an invitation-only performance.