Performance Art: The Chief of New Orleans
A Portrait of Louis Prima by Anthony Benedetto (Tony Bennett)
2010 marked the centennial year of Louis Prima’s birth, a New Orleans-born legend whose contributions to the American music scene are measured by the decade. In the 1930s, with his New Orleans Gang, he took his trumpet and vocal style to New York and Los Angeles where he helped define an era, forming a 22-piece orchestra that regularly topped the Big Band Era charts of the ’40s. Big Bands having faded by the ’50s, Prima moved to Las Vegas, where he fashioned the Witnesses with New Orleans’s great tenor saxophonist Sam Butera and defined yet another music scene. That band’s shuffle beat combined with its New Orleans jazz roots laid the foundation for early Rock & Roll. Even after his passing in 1975, Louis Prima still spun gold (The Louis Prima Capital Collectors Series compilation CD went gold in 2008) and topped the charts (His Live From Las Vegas hit the Billboard Top Jazz Album chart in 2005.). If you don’t know Prima, you No Capicia.
The world knows Tony Bennett as a peerless interpreter of the American songbook. Yet as a child growing up in Queens, New York, he wanted to be a painter. No one could better capture Prima’s five-decades in music than a man firmly rooted in the same traditions and experiences. Bennett paints under his family name of Benedetto and lives out his visual passions through this alter ego: As Tony Bennett tours the world, Anthony Benedetto paints and sketches a rarified daily scene, from intimate musical gatherings to international cityscapes. We’re honored to present his eloquent portrait of his dear friend and colleague, the expressive Louis Prima. For more information on Tony Bennett’s artwork please visit his website.