Tony Bennett (1926-2023). A tribute from Ian Shaw

Jazz singer Ian Shaw writes in tribute to the late Tony Bennett:

Tony Bennett. Glasgow, 2003. Photo © William Ellis

Tony Bennett was so much more than a popular singer. With a working career of almost seven decades, his unfailingly powerful high baritone was the sound of every era. From his early Columbia recordings, through the decidedly unhip duo records with the great Bill Evans, to his decidedly hip MTV profile – and latterly, the fascinating duets with Amy, Aretha and the iconic Gaga – Bennett’s flag seemed never to unfurl. Quincy and Herbie, for me, held the same career heft.

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But aside from his remarkable career achievements, his Grammys, his mass appeal – what a lovely lovely bloke. Always connected, to cab drivers, people in parks, cafés and lately, Twitter – Tony Bennett was always interested in the whole world. I was remarkably lucky to have been in his warm company, since way back in the late eighties, when he sketched my friend, Gill Manly at a gig in Stocks, on the Kings Road – to his singing Happy 40th Birthday to me, at Ronnie Scott’s.

When I heard of his death, I played his, and Bill Evans’ ‘Some Other Time’ and loved it. Its optimism, genuine exuberance and lack of sentimentality. A Masterclass.

Oh, and anyone who paints Central Park in the snow? Surely a very good spirit indeed.

Anthony Dominick Benedetto (Tony Bennett). Born Long Island City NY, 3 August 1926. Died NYC 21 July 2023.

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4 replies »

  1. A lovely tribute from another brilliant, if somewhat different, singer and interpreter of great songs. The Evans duets show two masters at the very top of their games.

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