- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2000

NEW YORK Veteran performer Tony Bennett and jazz singer-pianist Diana Krall might seem to be an unlikely duo, but they have been touring together this summer. They each do half the evening, with a duet at the end.

"We've been sold out everywhere in Europe. I count my blessings. I can't believe it. I'm 74, and it's bigger than ever," Mr. Bennett says in a telephone interview from Hamburg, Germany.

"Last night I was having dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Copenhagen and met two teachers who had brought over 163 kids from Waco, Texas. I sang last night outdoors for 35,000 people at the Tivoli Gardens. I said to the teachers, 'Have the kids come in.'

"Count Basie told me when kids visited Fats Waller backstage, he'd say, 'Got any friends? Bring them.' He'd let them in free and sit them down front, and they'd cheer him. I had 163 kids from Waco cheering me on last night, someplace in the park."

Mr. Bennett, who has been performing for more than 50 years, won a Grammy this year for "Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot and Cool."

He and Miss Krall will perform in 16 American cities through Sept. 16. The tour began last Friday. Their Aug. 22 performance at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Va., has been sold out.

Q: How did you get together with Diana Krall?

A: I heard her at a jazz festival in Perugia [Italy]. She was wonderful. We did Tanglewood [in Massachusetts' Berkshire Hills] a couple of years ago and hit it off. She gets better every single night. She plays beautiful piano, right in the groove. She is swinging. She won a Grammy this year for best jazz vocal album for "When I Look in Your Eyes."

Q: When you meet young performers, what do they ask you?

A: They all want to know, "How do you sustain a career?" They say they want to stay in this business. I tell them to have fun.

Q: Do you still paint often?

A: I paint every day. Tomorrow I'll be painting watercolors. I usually paint in the field. I don't know about tomorrow. I'll take a look. If it feels good, we'll do it, go to some quiet park or by a riverside. From here, I go to the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and then on vacation for two weeks in Tuscany and Venice. I'll paint there. A gallery in Hampstead, London, just had a show of my watercolors, and they flew off the walls. Four galleries in the last two years have shown my paintings in San Francisco, Boston, Naples, Fla. and now this one, and they really sold. Finally, it starts to happen.

Q: Do you still often go to museums?

A: Yes. I'm especially interested because I try to paint academically. I recently saw the Guggenheim collection of paintings from 1900 until now. I thought the best were John Singer Sargent and Joaquin Sorolla y Bestida, who's from Valencia, Spain. One of the fortunate things about traveling is being able to go to museums. Coming in from the airport, I saw there's a big collection of [Paul] Klee here. I'll go to that tomorrow and paint, and sing at night. It's a good life, I tell you. I can sing whatever I want. I'm doing the two things I love to do, and I'm getting away with it.

Q: Is there a line in any song you sing that sums up your philosophy of life?

A: There is, in a song I don't sing very often, "Nature Boy," which Nat Cole sang. It's, "The greatest thing is to love and be loved in return." To me, that's the best line of philosophy in any song.

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