Tony DeSare

Jazz Pianist Draws From Sinatra To Prince

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Many professional musicians eat, sleep and breathe music. Tony DeSare isn’t exactly one of them.

Don’t be confused, because the pianist/vocalist/composer from Hudson Falls, N.Y., loves what he does. And he’ll be doing it Saturday at the Monroeville Jazz Festival.

Originally a violin student, as a youngster “I begged my parents for a piano,” Mr. DeSare says. “They got me a keyboard,” and he took to it, in his mid-teens, adding vocals. His professional music career began right out of high school. “Before I knew it, I was getting offers to play four hours in bars.”

Mr. DeSare matriculated at Ithaca College, originally majoring in pre-med. He considered switching to music but settled on management so he he wouldn’t have to spend an extra year in school.

As it was, “I had to take a year of law, a year of accounting,” he says, which help “when you’re running your own business [in dealing with such things as] reading contracts and taxes.” After graduating, he moved to New York, where he’s lived ever since.

When it comes to his material, Mr. DeSare comes from all over the place.

“My influences are definitely varied — classic pop of the ’30s to ’50s,” Mr. DeSare says, but “I’m a child of the ’80s and ’90s,” so he’s likely to perform material by Prince and Bruce Springsteen as well as Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. “What I do is a mix of all those things, with jazz as a primary vocabulary. I’m continuing that tradition [of song interpretation].”

Mr. DeSare’s quartet also comprises guitarist Ed Becker (a protege of Bucky Pizzarelli), bassist Steve Doyle and drummer Mike Klopp. He says he’s looking forward to playing with Benny Benack III, whose band Elevations is opening the show.

“We should all have fun on stage, the audience should have fun,” says Mr. DeSare, not just about Saturday’s show but as a general statement.

The 37-year-old, who recently moved to suburban Westchester County, will become a father for the first time in a couple of months. “I know it’s going to completely change your life, but I don’t know exactly what that means,” he says.


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