— No one in popular American music has performed for so many years and at such a high level of excellence as legendary jazz and pop singer Tony Bennett — and this May 15 he’ll be making his first appearance in Williamsport, at the Community Arts Center.
“I’ve played so many places in Pennsylvania over the years,” he said in a recent phone interview from New York City. “But I don’t believe I’ve played in Williamsport. I’m looking forward to it. And then maybe take some time to look at the scenery.”
Still the epitome of cool at age 87, Bennett and his regular four-piece touring jazz band will be playing for about 95 minutes, he said.
“What people might not realize is that when I perform it’s as part of a working band,” Bennett said. “We play the classics, we play new stuff, but every night it’s different. It’s not just me up there singing for an hour and a half. We might play the same repertoire, but every night our band improvises, so it’s new and fresh to me. And the audiences recognize that.”
A guest vocalist at the May show will be Bennett’s daughter, Antonia, an accomplished singer herself.
Bennett, meanwhile, has experienced a kind of renaissance himself, a renewed popularity with young fans — after his various duet albums with modern rock singers.
He has just recorded a complete album with Lady Gaga, which will be released next September.
“She really is a wonderful singer,” Bennett said. “We did all-American standards, some Gershwin classics. And to hear her, she’s as good as Ella Fitzgerald. She’s very good.”
Bennett was really impressed by Gaga’s professionalism. “She came to the recording sessions prepared. I was asking her to perform the kind of music she’s not used to. Old fashioned songs, compared to what she’s doing now. Lady Gaga was unbelievable. She had completely rehearsed everything. She knew exactly what to do. She had a beautiful dress on, a glamorous dress. And she put it on the Internet where it had more than 13 million viewers.”