Monday, April 25, 2016

Bennett still the boss!

Had the pleasure of attending Tony Bennett's gig last night here in Austin. I can't say I was ever the biggest fan of the crooning ballad form but let's face it, Tony's the man. He's been there and done it, several times over, playing with some of the greatest jazz musicians of the last century. Well, he's 89, a little more fragile looking of late, and he has to pace himself through songs but when he hit's the stage, you can feel the energy coming through.

Last night he played with a quartet of top guys, including wonderful guitarist Gray Sargent (who was new to me) and Harold Jones on drums, repeatedly described as 'Basie's favorite drummer', and you could hear why. The band opened up proceedings with as short set of instrumental standards commencing with Stella by Starlight,  everyone getting a brief solo along the way, before the man himself stepped out to rapturous applause. Ok, he knows how to milk the moment, from using an old tape of Sinatra eulogizing him, through to hanging in the spotlight pretending to be overwhelmed by the audience, but it's all good theater.

He whipped through a set of songs he's known for, some almost at breakneck pace given his age, a particularly lively 'I got rhythm' comes to mind, and of course he brought the house down with 'San Francisco', before ending with a microphone-less rendition of Fly me to Moon.. The only thing missing was a tribute to Prince, but that would have taken him off script and if nothing else, this performance was heavily scripted. Nonetheless, he's a showman, has a great band, and he knows how to entertain. Catch him while you can.

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