Tony Bennett struck gold on his two recent albums of duets, but his latest cleverly tweaks the formula. "Viva Duets" teams Bennett with some of Latin music's biggest pop stars for a bilingual journey through the Great American Songbook. Don't worry: Bennett doesn't butcher anything en español. Instead, with the exception of Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, and Christina Aguilera, the guests sing most of their verses in Spanish. Aguilera swings brightly on "Steppin' Out With My Baby," and Estefan, looking inward on "Who Can I Turn to (When Nobody Needs Me)," exudes a gravitas we rarely hear on her own records. Vicentico, who once fronted the Argentine rock band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, nails the deep melancholy of Hank Williams's "Cold, Cold Heart," an early hit for Bennett. Only on "Return to Me," a Dean Martin standard rechristened as "Regresa a Mí," does Bennett, 86, step outside his comfort zone. A duet with iconic Mexican singer Vicente Fernández, who is 72, the song adds a tinge of mariachi guitars to the orchestral arrangement. It's the best of both worlds — and both singers. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "Return to Me (Regresa a Mí)"