Tony Bennett pays tribute to ‘jazz greats’ as he accepts lifetime award

Tony Bennett has hailed jazz as a “precious art form” as he accepted the lifetime achievement award at the 2021 Jazz FM Awards.

he 95-year-old American singer performed a pre-recorded version of The Way You Look Tonight, from the film Swing Time, from his New York home.

British jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine, American bandleader Jon Batiste, singer Ego Ella May and multi-instrumentalist Emma-Jean Thackray were also among the winners of the event hosted by London’s Under the Bridge venue.

Bennett said, “I listened to jazz musicians to develop my own vocal style.

“They are such expert craftsmen that allow them to be spontaneous and stay in the moment and always change what they were doing.

“It really appealed to me and it’s one of the reasons I’ve always wanted jazz musicians to play and record with me over the years.

“I want to thank all of the jazz greats I have worked with over the decades for this honor and thank you to Jazz FM for celebrating this treasured art form.”

Bennett revealed in February this year that he had Alzheimer’s disease after being first diagnosed in 2016.

In August, his son and manager, Danny, told US publication Variety that his father had stopped performing live.

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Batiste won awards for album of the year and soul act of the year, while saxophonist Gary Bartz was named international jazz actor of the year.

Thackray, meanwhile, won British Jazz Group of the Year and the EFG London Jazz Festival won the digital award for last year’s online festival, receiving a congratulatory message from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Mr. Khan said: “I would like to pass on my congratulations to the EFG London Jazz Festival for winning the Innovation Award. It’s a brilliant achievement and a testament to the great work they’ve done to bring music back to our city.

“And I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the whole festival back in action in November. I know you’ll continue to innovate and celebrate, so congratulations again.”

Broadcast via the Jazz FM website, the ceremony was hosted by British saxophonist Soweto Kinch and Jazz FM presenter Anne Frankenstein and included guests such as Sir Michael Parkinson, who paid tribute to his longtime friend Bennett.


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Courtney Pine has been appointed CBE for her services to jazz music (Katie Collins/PA)

Courtney Pine has been appointed CBE for her services to jazz music (Katie Collins/PA)

Also in attendance were author Nick Hornby, presenter Adil Ray, actor Danny John-Jules and tennis player Johanna Konta.

Nick Pitts, Jazz FM’s Chief Content Officer, said: “We are extremely proud of this year’s event, which once again showcased the incredible amount of talent, diversity and community spirit that exists within the world jazz scene.

“This year’s Jazz FM Awards with PPL and PRS for Music was also something incredibly special because every nominee and eventual winner had worked hard to continue to make music and art relevant throughout. of a terrifying pandemic and a difficult time for everyone.

“Our congratulations go to each of them.

“I would also like to thank all of our partners and sponsors who made this evening possible, and of course our listeners for continuing to listen to us and making us the UK‘s most loved jazz platform.”

The awards were held in conjunction with PPL and PRS for Music.

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