Tony Bennett, 92-year-old Guinness World Record holder, comes to sing at Fantasy Springs and Pechanga

Tony Bennett is a living legend. Yes, that term often gets overused, but Bennett is the real deal, still recording, still performing, still singing at the tender age of 92.

His most recent album, “Love Is Here To Stay,” is a collaboration with singer-pianist Diana Krall, and includes a Guinness World Record among its dozen tracks. Bennett’s new version of “Fascinating Rhythm” comes 68 years and 342 days after he originally recorded it in 1949, the longest-ever such span between the same single from the same artist.

His comeback, which started in the last half of the ’80s, now has lasted longer than most artists’ careers, and the crossover to a younger generation he achieved with such works as “MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett” in 1994 has lasted more than two decades since then. In 2014, he released “Cheek to Cheek,” a collaborative album with Lady Gaga, and a project that according to both artists is one of their favorite times ever in a recording studio or on stage.

And still, he sings, showing up seemingly once a year for a classy and timeless night of music, including Friday, Dec. 7 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio and a sold-out show Sunday, Dec. 9 at Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula.

In advance of that show, Bennett graciously offered to answer a few questions via email about his life, career, and music, which begin here.

Q: How do you keep going? A basic question but it¹s fascinating, I think, to see an artist who still loves his art as deeply as you do.

A: I tell people when they ask why haven’t I retired that I don¹t feel like I have worked a day in my life as I have been doing what I love the most — performing for people and entertaining them and making them happy. So it has never felt like a job to me and the audience inspires me. If I know that they have enjoyed the evening, and for a few hours they have put aside their own daily problems and worries, then that makes me feel good and I want to keep performing for the public. It¹s a very simple premise, but it’s really what I have been about ever since I started singing for my family on Sunday afternoons. They gave me such encouragement and I enjoyed making them happy so that I knew very early on I wanted to devote my life to being an entertainer.

Q: The Great American Songbook is your deepest well — what is it about the songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter and so many others that makes them so beloved?

A: It’s all about master crafting of lyrics and melody, and there was a golden age in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s where you had an extraordinary group of composers, Gershwin and Cole Porter as you mention, as well as Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, that created such a high level of artistry. And then at the same time, you had Fred Astaire who introduced so many of these songs to the public in his films and it created this rich musical legacy that has carried over from generations. It¹s one of the greatest contributions to world culture that America has made as I perform all over the world and these songs are cherished.

Q: Speaking of Gershwin, you received the Gershwin Prize in 2017 and became the first singer who interprets instead of writing songs to be honored. You¹ve received many honors in your career, but how did it feel to get this one?

A: Actually, I could not believe it when I was told I was going to be the first singer to receive the Gershwin Prize — it absolutely thrilled me. And it brought things full circle for me as the very first song I recorded, when I was using the stage name of Joe Bari, was Gershwin¹s ‘Fascinating Rhythm.’ I wanted to make sure I chose a song that would last and thought I couldn’t go wrong with Gershwin — that was in 1949!

Q: Your current album with Diana Krall is a delightful record. You’ve known her a long time, but what were your favorite parts of making this record?

A: Well, thank you for telling me that. I think what we both most enjoyed was that it was a very relaxed atmosphere and we just sang and had a musical conversation and let the songs take us where they would. And having Bill Charlap and his trio in the studio made it very easy to be spontaneous and not have to plot out every moment of each song. That is the way I like to work when I am recording — to keep the sessions as much like a live performance as possible and Diana is very much the same way since she is such an accomplished jazz singer and pianist.

Q: Duet partner or musical partner, what makes a great one? You’ve had longtime accompanists like Ralph Sharon and more recently Bill Charlap, but have also done records with greats like Bill Evans. What’s it like to find a great collaborator like those or any others?

A: Vocally, I think a duet where there is a good contrast between each of the singers works the best and makes it most interesting. From a musical standpoint, finding the right pianist or musical director is like being in a great marriage where you share the same creative vision overall but also inspire each other to consider new approaches. And particularly on stage, when you have a musical collaborator who you connect with, you can communicate with a look or a motion and they know exactly where they need to be and where you are going. It’s a very special relationship and it’s hard to find so I have been very fortunate to have had so many wonderful musicians accompany me through the years.

Q: When you made your comeback in the ’80s you added a new and younger audience to your existing one. What do you think it is about your music that appeals so broadly then and now?

A: When my son Danny reached out to me and suggested we do some events and appearances that were geared to a younger audience, and in particular MTV, the important thing was not to pander to a demographic. Instead, I performed the songs that I love to sing with my quartet of jazz musicians and we were confident that this music would resonate with a younger generation. It was fortunate that this happened at a time when music was becoming available through the internet and not just relegated to what radio stations would play on air. Younger listeners had the freedom to discover new music online and for them the songs I sang were completely new to them. I think this music is timeless and it is intelligently written and communicates with everyone — it isn’t based on a demographic.

Q: How does your love of the solitary art of painting compare to your love of singing in public?

A: For me, it has been this ongoing yin-yang relationship between being a public performer and an artist as they are both very different.  As an entertainer, I am on stage in front of thousands of people and you depend on the production crew and the musicians to make the show work. And then when I am in my art studio it is just me and the blank canvas. So in this way, if I get burned out from the very gregarious act of public performance, then I go to my studio and paint on my own and the two balance themselves out and I never feel burned out and it enables me to always stay in a creative zone.

Q: What adventures lie ahead in 2019 for Tony Bennett?

A: I hope quite a few, as I feel like I am just getting started and looking forward to learning something new and having many more adventures.

Tony Bennett

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7

Where: Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio

Tickets: $49-$109

Information: Fantasyspringsresort.com

When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9

Where: Pechanga Resort and Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula

Tickets: Sold out

Informationpechanga.com/entertain/tony-bennett

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