Amy Winehouse was like a lot of tragic and gifted figures to cross Tony Bennett’s path in his 85 years on this planet and his more than 65 years in show business. In the new Netflix exclusive documentary The Zen of Bennett, director Unjoo Moon captures their last encounter during a recording session for the Award winning album “Duets II.” We see a very nervous and distracted Winehouse trying to pull together her performance of “Body and Soul.” Voices from the behind glass are trying to coach her through, but it is finally Tony Bennett who takes control of the situation, calmly recalling stories about her idol, Dinah Washington and comparing the two. Tony knew Washington (of course he did), as he knew Billie Holiday and Bill Evans and so many other artist who tragically lost their lives to various addictions. In that moment, there was nothing else but Tony, Amy and the memories of Dinah Washington. Through that connection, almost possessed by Washington, Winehouse nails “Body and Soul.” That performance went on the win a Grammy for Tony and Amy, but she would never live to see it. Amy Winehouse died just weeks after that session. “She died so young,” Tony reflects in one of film’s more tender moments.
“The Zen of Bennett” is a special portrait of Tony Bennett the singer, Tony Bennett the artist and Tony Bennett the elder statesmen for mankind. With remarkable endurance, we follow Tony around the world for recording sessions with Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, Willie Nelson and many others. Into the wee hours of the morning, Tony is the calming force in the madness of what working with big personalities can bring. We see the artists who perform with Tony in awe of this living legend and in acceptance that this crooner can keep up and even force them to stretch to keep up with him. The film is light on music and heavy on reflection and intimate moments with Tony, the other duets artists and his family. The film was conceptualized and produced by Tony’s son Danny Bennett, who was the masterful architect of the post MTV Tony Bennett. It is beautifully shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Dion Beebe (“Chicago”) and a powerfully entertaining film that will stay with you long after the final song.
Netflix is proud to present this original and exclusive documentary that the San Francisco Chronicle said is “like the singer himself…smooth and classy.”
Ted Sarandos is Chief Content Officer for Netflix