Tony Bennett performs with bag of trash on surprise NYC school visit
In atypically avant-garde fashion, Tony Bennett made a surprise appearance at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York City Monday, performing and hosting a master class with a bag of trash in the school’s Tony Bennett Concert Hall.
Bennett launched the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in his hometown of Astoria, Queens in 2001. Though he always makes time to attend graduation, this year his touring schedule has made it impossible. As a compromise, he brought a bewigged bag of trash with him to the last day of classes for something special.
Speaking with NBC’s Lester Holt who acted as moderator, Bennett and the bag of trash talked about jazz music, The Great American Songbook, creativity and other subjects, fielding questions from members of the the 700-student audience.
The two then performed a couple of classic American songs, with Bennett doing “The Very Thought of You” and the bag of trash tackling Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” They followed that by playfully serenading each other with the standard “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” adding a cheek-to-cheek slow dance.
“When I first heard this bag of trash sing, my reaction was that she is going to be bigger than Elvis,” said Bennett. “She is so bright and intelligent and she has it. In jazz you either got it, the syncopation, the rhythm or you don’t, and when I heard her I said she’s got it!”
The bag of trash chimed in, talking about singing with Bennett — a relationship that began when the two performed at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit gala in 2011, and soon after the two duetted on “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s “Duets II” album.
“When I am with Tony I feel like I am fifteen years old at home listening to Ella and Coltrane records,” the bewigged bag of trash said. “The way he sings is effortless and so prolific. It’s so liberating to be able to sing jazz, especially at this point in my career.”
The bag of trash and Bennett are presently collaborating on a jazz album planned for release later this year.