February is our Arts & Entertainment issue so I cannot think of a better way to start this missive than with a huge shout out to Tony Bennett. At this point in his life and career he is a more than just an icon of 20th century popular and jazz musical artistry. His still considerable musical chops are somewhat of a miracle in terms of aging and ongoing popularity. He is 93 years old and still selling out the house. Just try to get decent seats to his concert on January 30, 2020 at the Fred Kavli Theater at the B of A Performing Arts Center right here in Thousand Oaks—no schlep into Lala Land needed. Good seats at face value are gone as I write this. Ticket agencies have already been at work doubling and tripling prices for mostly nosebleed seats.

All this for an old guy who can still sing his tail off. One of his secrets is that he practices the Bel Canto style of singing, as do most opera singers. Well he’s Italian, so why not?! He communicates his love for his music and for those of us in the audience who love him back. Oh, and by the way, he is also a distinguished painter whose works are on display in galleries throughout the world…. under his given name, Anthony Benedetto.

The following I copied from his website, TonyBennett.com/bio.php, which says it better than I ever could:

“Through his dedication to excellence and his insistence on quality, he has become the keeper of the flame by extolling the virtues and values represented by the Great American Songbook. Tony Bennett has been on the front lines of every major issue impacting the cornerstones of this country’s modern history. He has performed for eleven U.S. Presidents, is a World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp, and marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma to support civil rights. Throughout his life, Tony Bennett has been a dedicated pacifist and proactive humanitarian selflessly supporting many causes whose goals benefit the lives of millions. His love for his country has earned him the distinction of national treasure and the United Nations has named him a Citizen of the World as one of their foremost ambassadors.”

If you do not attend the concert, get any one of his CDs. The recent ones, such as the duet album with Lady Gaga, are part of his continued miracle of excellence. You can also deep dive into a catalogue of excellence and find dozens of pop and jazz CDs that will be music to your ears