Most 100-year-olds don’t mark the milestone birthday with a news conference in a piano bar. Then again, Irving Fields isn’t most 100-year-olds.
Fields is New York City’s oldest lounge performer and still plays piano four nights a week at Nino’s Tuscany restaurant in Manhattan. Even though he gets around more slowly than he once did, he has no plans to stop playing and recording albums.
“I have a brand-new one, it’s called ‘100 Years and Still Tickling the Ivories,’ ” he said at Friday’s gathering organized by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.
Maloney said Fields, a neighborhood institution, has “an energetic spirit and zeal for his work.”
Fields, best known for an album titled “Bagels and Bongos,” tapped into an interest for Latin music among the Jewish community in the 1950s and still takes request for such signature tunes as “Miami Beach Rhumba.”
The centenarian started performing in New York City in the 1920s.
Look up his name on YouTube and you will find a playlist of nearly 200 videos of Fields playing music that evokes the feeling of a cocktail party in a sunken lounge room. He has sold more than 2 million albums.
Fields blew out the candles on his piano-shaped birthday cake Friday and said, “I can’t believe this, am I in heaven?”
His simple advice for staying young at heart: “Love what you do.”