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Tony Bennett at Davies Hall

The great Tony Bennett played Davies Hall once again last Thursday as part of SF Jazz.  At the age of 86 he has more energy than most performers will ever have.  Every mature artist would like to smuggle the energy of youth into the wisdom of old age, but very few succeed. Picasso did, Miles did, and so has Tony.  Like Charlie Parker and Miles, he is a great singer of songs who knows the power of great lyrics.  His phrasing is the equal of the very greatest jazz masters.  And his marvelous tone!  He can still belt it out in the mid range, or whisper off mic.  And what an extraordinary, and not easy, life to draw from.  It takes a half hour to sing a medley of most, but not nearly all, of his hits.  The quartet of Gray Sargent on guitar, Lee Musiker on piano, Marshall Wood on bass, and Harold Jones on drums are the perfect accompaniment.  In an age where everyone from mediocre rock stars to opera singers are encouraged to take a shot at the Great American Songbook, it's instructive to listen to someone who owns it.  I'm a firm believer one has to grow up with a music to own it, which is why Sonny, and Herbie, and Tony are the best.  Fortunately art knows no politics; Speaker Nancy and Ron Pelosi where a row behind me, and Secretary George and Chalotte Schultz were in the front row.  More on Miles in my next blog.