The Magic of Tony Bennett is a tribute to one of America’s greatest vocalists Tony Bennett, featuring Steve Leeds former bandleader at Manhattan’s famed Rainbow Room along with the Gary Lawrence Trio, a swinging jazz combo. Although I can go on-and-on about their attributes, if a picture is worth a thousand words, than a video is worth even more. Talented song stylist Steve Leeds presents the great music of TB with The swinging Gary Lawrence Trio.
STEVE LEEDS — Like many of history’s great vocal talents, Steve started singing from an early age. From the age of 10 through 13, Steve began his career performing on “The Children’s Hour” TV show that aired on ABC Saturday evenings, as well as “Star Time”, a popular NBC variety show. By the time he was in high school he formed his own acapella group called Steve and the Valatones. One can almost still hear the strains of those crisp clear harmonies from the pier at Palisades Amusement Park. The Valatones often shared the same bill with performers like Bobby Rydell. To supplement his income, Steve also did TV commercials and modeled clothes for the likes of Alexanders and Macy’s. Steve also sang with a jazz trio, performing at various nightclubs and venues in and around Manhattan, and was a regular on WFAS broadcasting live on Saturday nights from Sergio’s in Hartsdale where Frank Sinatra made the occasional appearance. Eventually, Steve joined the Larry Elgart Orchestra and began performing in earnest all over the USA and Canada, including the famous Riverboat in the Empire State Building.
Upon being discovered by Cy Coleman when he was 23, Cy signed Steve to a contract and became his personal manager. Cy himself was already a legend, and wrote many hit songs for Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, among others. “Witchcraft”…”The Best Is Yet To Come”…”Big Spender”…” Hey Look Me Over” are just a few of Cy’s compositions. Cy also composed all the music for “Sweet Charity” starring Shirley Maclaine for which Steve sang the title track. He also performed Cy’s music at popular New York City hotels like the Plaza and the Waldorf, singing with Richard Kiley and Jerry Orbach. New Yorkers who loved the Big Band sound could find Steve at the Rainbow Room where he performed 6 or 7 nights a week for 3 years now thats a long gig!) at the world famous night club on the 65th floor of the NBC (now GE) building in Rockefeller Center. The band was so popular, they even broadcast a live tv special honoring Mary Martin of Peter Pan fame. Also on the show with Steve were Michael Feinstein and Nancy Wilson. Some of the musicians Steve has had the distinct pleasure of working with over the years include Michael Brecker… Steve Kuhn…Cameron Brown…Dave Finke…Billy Drummond just to name a few. Tony Bennett, paying Steve the ultimate compliment after catching the show late one night at the Rainbow, said to him…”keep singing kid…we need younger guys like you in the business… we need singers that can really sing the great standards”.
GARY LAWRENCE — Gary Lawrence has been a professional pianist and arranger for over forty years. A graduate of Brooklyn College, Lawrence is a veteran of the famous Catskills “Borscht Belt,” having worked at many resorts, including Brown’s Hotel and Grossingers. After many years of playing private parties in the New York area, he formed a Roaring 20s Big Band, The Sizzling Syncopators, which has appeared on national TV and has recorded for several labels, including CBS Masterworks. Since relocating to Florida in 1978, Lawrence
has been the leader of two radio orchestras — The WFTL Orchestra and The WLQY “Music of Your Life” Orchestra — and has ran his own successful booking agency, Tops in Music and Entertainment.
As a pianist/conductor, Lawrence has performed with such well-known performers as Allan Jones, Mel Torme, Cab Calloway, Steve Allen, Claire Barry, Mickey Katz, Don Cornell, Tiny Tim, Howard Keel and Shirley Bassey. He has also toured with the internationally renowned Klezmer ensemble, The Epstein Brothers Orchestra, and appears in their award-winning film, “A Tickle in the Heart.” He was also the musical director for the Manhattan Dinner Theater`s production of “Picon Pie,” the musical biography of Yiddish Theatre great, Molly Picon and “The Kid from Brooklyn,” a bio of Danny Kaye. Currently, Gary Lawrence and Jan Kroupa are performing throughout Florida with The Songs of the Sunshine State, a musical salute to Florida. Lawrence is also traveling internationally with The Classic Jazz Trio, a unique and informative presentation of jazz and pop, derived from classical masterworks. In addition, Lawrence performs a one man show featuring the music of the ’20s — Hello Central Give Me Doctor Jazz!
Gary Lawrence just completed a 7-month engagement as musical director on the Holland America Statendam.
Gary and David Citron are currently working on a new Internet radio show “Chopin, Tschaikovsky…and All That Jazz!”
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