The music director of the Fredericksburg Symphony reflects on the death of Tony Bennett
From Kevin Bartram’s Facebook page:
Thanksgiving day 2016. My heart sank as I watched Tony Bennett nearly fall off a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. Thankfully, it was a Sesame Street muppet that saved him!
10 days later, in Fredericksburg VA, I kicked off his entrance music and my heart sank again as I heard a loud crash. I looked down at Harold Jones, Tony’s legendary drummer (and former Count Basie drummer) to see if his cymbals dropped. Harold simply smiled back, knowingly. It was not him….it was the audience. To this day I have never heard a louder ovation.
My brief time with Tony taught me to value staff, musicians, and to respect all people. You can immediately sense the type of person you are based on your staff. Mr. Cool, as I called him, treated the people around him like family. They loved him and stuck with him forever. Loyalty.
After the show, we all partied into the wee hours. (And if anyone reading this works at either Castiglia’s or Foode, he couldn’t get enough of that food!)
After Tony went to bed, his manager approached me and said that tonight was the longest set he had done in years. Encore after encore. He sang non-stop for 74 minutes…as a 90 year old. His normal set had been 50 minutes. He said this was a credit to Fredericksburg. He felt the energy and love from the audience and found the strength to keep going.
I remember pulling up one score after another, figuring that he would stop. He just kept on singing.
A great, great man. And a better human being. I’ll miss you, Mr. Cool.