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Family | Look Listen

Bennett Sings for a Whole New Crowd

November 05, 1998|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Audio

The Playground. Tony Bennett. Columbia/Sony Wonder. CD: $16.98. Cassette: $9.98. Tony Bennett seems to be out to prove he's truly a man for all ages. First he won over Generation X-ers with his 1995 Grammy-winning "MTV Unplugged" album. Now the jazz great has brought his lived-in croon and swinging rhythms to the Teletubby crowd, with terrific results. Bennett--with Ralph Sharon on piano, Clayton Cameron on drums, Paul Langosch on bass and Gray Sargent on guitar--doesn't stint in this tuneful collection. From the stellar title song--Bill Evans' tender composition with special, soulful lyrics written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman ("When I hear children at play, memories come from far away . . . ") to classics such as "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" and "Swinging on a Star," Bennett's signature vocal stylings are sparkling fresh.

The album also includes his charming interactions with guest stars Rosie O'Donnell ("Put On a Happy Face"), Kermit the Frog ("Bein' Green" and "Firefly") and Elmo ("Little Things").

Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape). Rounder Kids. CD: $15. Cassette: $9.50. (800) 443-4727. PBS star Arthur, the bespectacled little aardvark whose fans are legion, joins his pals for a songfest of familiar and new tunes that echo the show's mix of fun and gentle messages about learning, using imagination, friendship and family. Some of the 19 selections: the show's notable theme song by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers and "Arthur vs. the Piano"; Francine's attempt to be "Meek for a Week"; D.W.'s very loud protest lullaby, "Go to Sleep"; Mr. Ratburn's doo-wop "Homework"; and Art Garfunkel's "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" (from the show's first episode of the new season, beginning on KCET on Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m.)

Video

Blue's Birthday. Blue's Clues. Paramount Home Video. 38 minutes. $9.95. Ages 2 to 5. From Nickelodeon's marvelous preschool series created by Traci Paige Johnson, Todd Kessler and Angela C. Santomero, it's the adorable little blue pup's birthday and it's up to viewers to help host Steve (Burns) figure out what special gift Blue wants. Along the way, in this captivating world of animated cut-out art, there are birthday games, puzzles to solve and "skiddoo" visits with three real children and to the "present store" for gift shopping.

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