On Tuesday night, January 17th, as I was about an hour into playing piano at Nino's Tuscany in Manhattan(where I do a regular Monday gig but was filling in for 10 days for Irving Fields)... a recognizable figure popped into the restaurant briefly to chat with the manager. A few gasps from patrons indicated that none other than Tony Bennett had walked in. As a few of them grabbed their table napkins and ran over for an autograph, this pianist decided to also meet this legendary singer. I grabbed my recent compilation CD "Ballads of Broadway, Bee Gees..and Me" and handed it to Mr. Bennett as he was leaving...he commented that he enjoyed my playing--I had ironically been doing a Michel LeGrand tune "What Are You Doing the Rest Of Your Life" which Tony had recorded. He was very personable...I returned to the piano and did a rousing version of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" to the crowd's delight...but it wasn't over yet... The next evening after I finished my dinner at the bar at Nino's Tuscany, the bartender Dino suggested that I start playing--I thought he was just referring to the crowd that was starting to assemble, but I didn't notice what he was truly indicating until later...I began my set with Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean" and went on to "As Time Goes By" from the film Casablanca when a bar patron I knew greeted me as "Mr. Casablanca". My third song was "New York State of Mind", and I would go on to play other standards like "Fly Me to the Moon", "Our Love is Here to Stay" and a tune I did the previous nite--"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life"...the first song I would sing in the set was "What a Wonderful World"...not long after that number, I noticed a young blonde lady getting up from her table. A column had blocked my vision of who she was seated with--and I was surprised to once again see Mr. Tony Bennett following her out. He greeted me with a smile at the piano and my first tip of the night. "Two nites in a row--Tony"--I said to him affably...he thanked me for the tunes saying "Nice job, man"...I recalled that I had wanted to mention something to him the previous nite--I told him I had written a song some 13 years ago when Tony was making a nice comeback thanks to MTV--I had tried to get it to his management company but was not sure if Tony ever heard it--he seemed unaware of it and so I said I'd try to get him a copy of this tribute song entitled "Thank You Tony Bennett"--he smiled and thanked me. What an honor. A singer Frank Sinatra once called "the greatest pop/saloon singer in the world" paid me the highest compliment--his admiration. The songs I listed above that I had played were ironically numbers he had covered in his career--and the only one I sang--"What a Wonderful World"--was a duet he did with k.d. lang that sparked his career comeback(and "New York State of Mind" was a recent duet with Billy Joel not long after the 911 travesty)...had I known he was there I might have piped up on a few numbers--or perhaps asked him to sing...but this was much more perfect--coincidentally doing standards he had sung with no knowledge of him being in the room...my guardian angel must be a musician!! Thank you--Tony Bennett!!!