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High concept and high class, An American Classic is a worthy visual complement to Tony Bennett's 2006 duets CD of the same name. The notion of pairing veteran artists with a variety of singing partners is nothing new, of course (cf. B.B. King and Frank Sinatra, among many others), but this one goes a step further; under the direction of Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) and his team, Bennett appears in what's described as a "docu-musical," faithfully re-creating a variety of performance settings much like the ones in which the 80-year-old singer has appeared in the course of his long, fruitful career. Thus we find him on a concert stage with Barbra Streisand ("Smile"), in a nightclub with John Legend (a swinging, uptempo "Sing, You Sinners"), in the studio with k.d. lang and trumpeter Chris Botti ("Because of You"), on a '60s-style TV variety show with Diana Krall (a classy "The Best is Yet to Come"), in Vegas with Elton John ("Rags To Riches") and then Michael Buble (an amusing "Just in Time"), and so forth, on up to Bennett's triumphant shot on MTV Unplugged with Christina Aguilera (no jazz singer, but she keeps most of her excesses in check on "Steppin' Out") and the inevitable "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" (Bennett with piano accompaniment only). It's all very respectful, well staged, and entertainingly choreographed, but if this 45-minute cavalcade has a significant shortcoming, it's that it mostly lacks fire and spontaneity; the only time Bennett cuts loose is during an audio-only "I Got Rhythm" heard under the various DVD menus. Viewers may also be disappointed that Sting, Bono, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, the Dixie Chicks, and several others on the CD do not appear here, and it's a notable drag that not a single one of the composers or arrangers of the material is identified. Bonus features include a "making of" documentary and other featurettes. --Sam Graham