Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Tony Bennett at Birmingham Symphony Hall

David Burke By

Sign in to view read count
Tony Bennett
Birmingham Symphony Hall
Birmingham, UK
July 3, 2017

The ghost of Frank Sinatra crackled over the PA, introducing Tony Bennett as "the greatest singer in the world." He was, The Voice declared, "gonna tear the place up"—a boast that seemed hardly credible as the dapper nonagenarian shuffled on stage for what was surely his adieu to Birmingham. But a boast that Bennett did his damndest to affirm in the following 90-plus minutes of a set that was a virtual compendium of 20th Century song. Of course the vagaries of age have exerted their toll one of the last icons of the jazz. His movement is more circumspect, his vocal delivery less dynamic (though still compelling) and memory sometimes a blur. After a sprightly "I'm Old Fashioned," he segued into the prelude of "It Amazes Me" only to forget the words. A heartbreaking moment was tempered by Bennett's self-deprecation. Our faces wet with tears, we willed him on—and on he went, to reprise "I'm Old Fashioned" as if performing it for the first time, all of us cheering the second climax even louder.

Bennett's spirit remains indomitable, and it was this indomitable spirit, in concert with a consummate professionalism and an almost clairvoyant compatibility with his excellent quartet comprising the redoubtable Billy Stritch on piano, the subtle shadings of Gray Sargent on guitar and a rhythm section of Marshall Travis Wood (bass) and former Count Basie drummer Harold Jones, that navigated him through an emotionally-charged evening. Emotions were particularly charged on the big ballads, Duke Ellington's "(In My) Solitude," Michel Legrand's "How Do You Keep the Music Playing," the Al Dublin/Harry Warren two-hander "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful," each rendition emphasising the poignancy of an occasion unlikely to be repeated.

For this was arguably Bennett's adieu to the Symphony Hall, a venue he declared to be among the finest anywhere—and a venue fortunate to have been graced with his mercurial presence no fewer than ten times over the years (a milestone marked by what appeared to be an extemporaneous presentation before he disappeared into the night). The final flourish included a swinging "The Shadow of Your Smile," a vibrant "For Once in My Life" and his signature "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." There was a truncated "Fly Me to the Moon," the pathos-soaked slower tempo of Bennett's version every bit the equal of Sinatra's brash take, as Bennett relinquished his mic and sang to the heavens. And then he was gone. Yet his aura endured, as his legend will endure. Forever.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Live Reviews
Album Reviews
The Vinyl Post
Live Reviews
Building a Jazz Library
Mix Tape
Live Reviews
New York Beat
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
Read more articles

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
May23Thu
Tony Bennett
Fox Theatre Detroit
Detroit, MI
May25Sat
Tony Bennett
Peoria Civic Center
Peoria, IL
Jun21Fri
Tony Bennett
Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
Jun21Fri
Antonia Bennett, Tony Bennett
Ravinia
Highland Park, IL
Jun28Fri
Tony Bennett
Royal Albert Hall
London, UK
Jun29Sat
Tony Bennett
Royal Albert Hall
London, UK
Jul10Wed
Tony Bennett
Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA

Related Articles

Live Reviews
Charlotte Jazz Festival 2019
By Mark Sullivan
May 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Nubya Garcia at Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival 2019
By Ian Patterson
May 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Electronic Explorations in Afro-Cuban and UK Jazz
By Chris May
May 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Charlotte Jazz Festival 2019
By Perry Tannenbaum
May 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Savannah Music Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
May 12, 2019