Fans recall Tony Bennett’s performance at Rochester jazz fest

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Music lovers are mourning the death of singer Tony Bennett.

He died Friday in New York City at the age of 96.

Thousands in Rochester got to hear the legendary crooner in person at the second Rochester jazz festival in 2003. He sang at Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre on Gibbs Street.

Marc Iacona, one of the festival’s producers, said that night was “magical.”

He described Bennett as humble and said he fell in love with this city.

“We were kind of coming out of our inaugural year, and I jumped out of the Eastman just to take a rest, and I was side stage there. He looked over my way. I know he wasn’t talking to me but it looked like he was looking at me, and he said, ‘Hold on. Isn’t this place beautiful?’ He was referring to the Eastman Theatre. He said, ‘They don’t make them like this anymore’ and he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to ask the band not to play with me: sing acapella.’ He sang ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ and I think just touched everyone. There was just a silence among 2,200-plus people.”

Known for the standard “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” Bennett was also known for collaborating with so many musicians of many different styles, including Michael Buble, Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, and Norah Jones.

Iacona says not many musicians can do that and it sends the message that you’re never too old to create and grab people’s hearts.