Tony DeSare at Birdland

Tony DeSare. Photo credit: Vincent Soyez
Rating
4.7/5

A packed house assembled to see and hear storyteller, songwriter, singer, and pianist extraordinaire Tony DeSare at Birdland in the intimate, downstairs theater. Already on stage were guitarist Edward Decker, bassist Dylan Shamat, and drummer Michael Klopp. Lights dimmed, and all eyes turned to the handsome young DeSare approaching from the audience as he began to sing Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” on his way to center stage.

DeSare was dressed smartly in a light gray plaid vest, white shirt, and light brown tie. His partners on stage looked sharp in dark suits, white shirts, and ties. The modus operandi for tonight’s venue was looking and sounding great.

Tony DeSare. Photo credit: Vincent Soyez
Tony DeSare. Photo credit: Vincent Soyez

Artistry

After another Cole Porter standard, a swinging Just One of Those Things, it was clear that DeSare and his trio of instrumental partners, world-class musicians all, were to present superb singing and jazz. Of special, immediately note were the sensitivity and insight with which the musicians collaborated. The musicians fluidly communicated the subtlest musical cues, and the sound balance was just right; they did not need to be in a recording studio to achieve perfect sound, balance, and pitch. How often do musicians forget that they are playing too loudly if they cannot hear every nuance of their partners’ sounds on stage? None of that came into play this evening. In essence, everything we heard was like a single take in a session. Birdland lighting and sound artists deserve recognition as well.

Inspiration and Storytelling

DeSare introduced each song in an engaging and deeply personal way. His manner and charm in speaking were as crucial as his singing and playing. Audience members sighed when he spoke of his nine-year-old son and the romance and beauty of Paris. They nodded and smiled as he described the provenance of each musical gem.

While DeSare does not mimic other singers, his singing is undoubtedly an artistic tribute to Frank Sinatra, Prince, Michael Buble, Harry Connick, Jr., and even James Taylor with his effortless singing range. In part due to the power of the American Songbook, through his artistry DeSare draws his audience into his world and the song’s poetry, romance, and beauty taking us through time and space to special moments and places.

Tony DeSare. Photo credit: Stephen Pariser
Tony DeSare. Photo credit: Stephen Pariser

A Solo and Ensemble Jazz Pianist

DeSare’s solo and ensemble piano work alone could draw audiences. He trades with his partners effortlessly like a Dianna Krall or Bill Evans, expressing new musical ideas through sophisticated improvisation. His playing is flawless and effortlessly supports his vocal offerings. His sense of humor emerges, and in his encore with Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” earned by audience acclaim, he could not help but throw in a quick musical phrase from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The delightful “New Orleans Tango,” written by DeSare, followed and reminded this writer that DeSare was a contemporary composer adding to the American Songbook. DeSare’s contribution to the extant literature is a remarkable feat as the sacred Songbook clings mightily to its established canon.

Tony DeSare and Edward Decker. Photo credit: Nolan Hurley
Tony DeSare and Edward Decker. Photo credit: Nolan Hurley

Versatility

From his tango and the next bluesy version of “Kiss” by Prince, an up version of George Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me”, and Ray Charles’s “You Don’t Know Me” in a gospel feel, DeSare portrayed his stylistic versatility.

Paris Will Always Have You,” written by DeSare, drew on the charm of Paris and the composer’s romantic musings of the beautiful city. This song and setting provided the apposite transition to DeSare’s intimate vocal solo accompanied simply by seven-string guitarist Edward Decker in Howard Arlen and Johnny Mercer’s “One For My Baby,” described by DeSare as the ultimate Frank Sinatra saloon song.

Sondheim took his place in the mix with his “All I Need Now is the Girl,” and with the song DeSare wrote inspired by his nine-year-old son, he sang “It’s Always Sunny When I’m With You.”

DeSare graciously thanked the audience and Birdland team and introduced his final song, “I’m, Going to Live Until I Die,” written by Mann Curtis, Walter Kent, and Al Hoffman.

Tony DeSare at the piano. Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland
Tony DeSare at the piano. Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland

The American Songbook

Tony DeSare is an emissary of the American Songbook and storyteller par excellence. His repertoire ranges from Broadway and jazz to pop, saloon, and crooners and is broad enough to appeal to just about anyone.

The Band

Edward Decker, Seven string guitar
Dylan Shamat, Bass
Michael Klopp, Drums

Readers may be interested in the musical diary he began during covid isolation (#songdiaries #tonydesare).

Tony DeSare’s Online Profiles

http://www.tonydesare.com/schedule

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tdesare

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/tonydesare

Website – http://www.tonydesare.com

Birdland Jazz Club (Theater)

Events and Tickets

315 West 44th St, New York, NY 10036

New York, NY 10036

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Liz Callaway Celebrates Sondheim, Jaime Lozano and Mauricio Martinez at 54 Below, John Lloyd Young at Café Carlyle, and 54 Below Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits.

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