Tommy Banks hangs up the baton

Adrienne Lamb, The Arts Report

EDMONTON - Legendary jazz band leader and Canadian Senator Tommy Banks is hanging up his baton.

The Juno award-winning musician said his band will hold their last concert because he wants to focus his energies on politics and the Senate.

Banks, who was called to the Senate three years ago, said it was difficult to juggle the administrative responsibilities of having a big band back in Edmonton with his duties in Ottawa.

"If you're going to do that job, it's a full time job," said the Alberta senator.

Banks said he had cut his regular concert tours from 40 performances a year to four.

Banks and his Big Band will hold their last concert in Edmonton on March 22nd.

"There is a need for there to be bands of that kind," he said. "And I need to vacate the field, as it were, and make room for others."

From 1968 to 1983, his Big Band was featured on CBC Television.

Banks has been a guest conductor for most of the major professional orchestras in North America. And he's conducted for gala concerts for state visits of dignitaries in Ottawa.

He was an accompanist with hundreds of well-known performers and has produced, conducted and composed dozens of internationally syndicated television specials.

An accomplished pianist, he has performed with a variety of jazz groups.

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